‘We will work with you’: Andy Burnham urges private landlords to get on board with GM’s housing plans

Andy Burnham told a disgruntled crowd of private landlords and property professionals that he wants to work with them to develop the region’s housing strategy at a conference in Manchester today.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester gave the keynote speech at a conference organised by the Residential Landlords’ Association (RLA) in which he called housing a “human right” and one of the biggest issues he faces in his role.

During his election campaign, Burnham made several pledges related to housing including the creation of a ‘Good Landlord Scheme’ for the region as part of his wider Greater Manchester Strategy.

Today, he told the Future Renting North conference that he wants to work with the sector to develop the regional accreditation scheme and committed to working with the RLA directly.

He said: “We feel if you work with us, then this can help the private rented sector from the bottom up.

“We will work with you to establish what’s reasonable, what’s fair and what landlords should be expected to provide.”

Burnham claimed that four in every 10 homes in Greater Manchester’s private rented sector fell below standards.

He also spoke of an “epidemic of insecurity” due to a lack of housing and employment security but said that simply building new homes won’t solve the crisis, stressing that standards must be raised.

Burnham said: “I want decent, safe and affordable housing for everyone in the private rented sector.”

He reminded delegates of his pledge to eradicate rough sleeping in the region by 2020, and told them that eviction from private rented housing is the single biggest cause of homelessness.

The Mayor also discussed plans to flush out private landlords who don’t look after or invest in their properties by offering them amnesty and facilitating their exit from the market.

Although this is likely to involve a buyout package, it is unclear whether these ‘bad’ landlords would be offered the market price for their property.

Burnham was accused by one audience member of using anti-landlord rhetoric during his campaign and was asked how many landlords in the region “gave up” since that campaign last year.

However, the Mayor was keen to make the distinction between ‘rogue’ landlords and the majority of landlords who care for their properties and tenants.

He said: “The fact that you are at the conference today shows that you want to be reputable and do things properly. But the truth of the matter is this doesn’t apply to the whole of the private rented sector.”

Other audience members also took issue with Burnham’s tone with one asking him: “Do you have any idea how many months it takes if you are going to evict a tenant properly?”

Meanwhile, another audience member told the Mayor that landlords are having to provide more and more services to keep their tenants and said that not enough help and support is being provided by local authorities.

Burnham said that now is the time for conversation and debate but stood by his claims, stressing the need to work together to raise standards in the sector.

He said: “If you start this from a place of anger and mistrust it won’t work […] Let’s be part of that change together.”

The Mayor’s new housing policy is expected to be announced later this year with the Good Landlord Scheme expected to be implemented within 12-18 months.

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