News 21.6

Labour Pledges to Combat Cold and Damp Rented Homes with New Laws

In a bold move to tackle substandard rental housing, the Labour Party has committed to introducing stringent new laws aimed at eradicating cold, damp, and mouldy rented homes, promising significant financial relief for tenants.

Shadow Housing Secretary Angela Rayner declared to The Mirror that “time is up” for exploitative landlords should Labour come to power. Echoing her sentiment, Net Zero Chief Ed Miliband accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of betraying renters by scrapping legislation that would have reduced bills by an average of £250 annually.

Labour’s proposed policies include mandating landlords to upgrade their properties to meet higher energy efficiency standards or face substantial fines. This follows Sunak’s controversial reversal last September, which Miliband claims burdened renters with an additional £750 million in energy costs annually.

Labour asserts that their plan will lift a million people out of fuel poverty. Miliband described this initiative as a “crusade,” emphasizing its significance for over a million renters enduring cold, inefficient homes and inflated energy bills. “This is incredibly important,” he stated, “highlighting a stark contrast in this campaign; we are committed to cutting bills.”

Rayner outlined further tenant protections under Labour, including safeguards against unjust evictions, excessive rent hikes, and substandard living conditions. She stressed, “Landlords who think they can leave tenants in hazardous environments or arbitrarily increase rents or evict without cause will find their time is up under a Labour Government.”

Labour plans to enforce a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C for all rented homes by 2030, a significant step up from the current E grade requirement, which carries a £5,000 fine for non-compliance. Upgrading from E to C is estimated to save tenants an average of £400 annually on energy bills.

Miliband underscored the importance of these standards, calling the fight against fuel poverty a matter of “basic decency.” He criticized some private landlords for neglecting necessary upgrades, asserting, “You can’t tackle fuel poverty without addressing the substandard conditions in some rental properties.”

Rayner cited the tragic case of Awaab Ishak, a two-year-old who died in 2020 from mould exposure in a Rochdale rental flat, as a stark reminder of the urgent need for reform. “That should never have happened in a modern society like ours,” she said.

Under Labour’s proposals, landlords would be required to improve insulation and potentially upgrade single-glazed windows to enhance energy efficiency, though there would be no mandate to remove existing boilers.

Labour leader Keir Starmer also promised to legislate against landlords exploiting “bidding wars” between prospective tenants, a practice he says artificially inflates rents. “We will introduce a law to prevent this,” Starmer vowed, “ending the practice of landlords pitting renters against each other to drive up rents.”

Additionally, Starmer pledged to curb “extortionate” deposits and address issues of mould and damp. These commitments were made during a tour of the Canada Water development in East London, one of the city’s largest mixed-use regeneration projects.

As Labour gears up for the General Election, their housing policy represents a significant push towards improved living conditions for renters and a marked difference from the current administration’s approach.

NetRent Comment

Starmer avoided answering the question about how he intends to stop “bidding wars” despite being repeatedly asked by Fiona Bruce on the live debate last night. It’s typical of this “sound bite” method of electioneering. The real damage is to portray private landlords as the evil source of all problems with housing in the UK, conveniently ignoring the sad fact that Awaab Ishak died in a housing association property and that demonising private landlords will simply mean more will leave the industry.

Starmer and his “attack dog” deputy Angela Rayner should look to Wales where the actions of the Labour government is destroying the private rented sector. Instead of working with landlords Labour is determined to drive them out consigning thousands more tenants to living in temporary accommodation indefinitely. This is the politics of the lunatics, but they don’t care so long as the sound bites win your vote.

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