Housing Secretary Michael Gove has made an announcement overnight that “the government will always act to protect tenants.”
The claim comes as part of an announcement giving cash to seven areas to clamp down on rogue private landlords. At the same time there is to be a cash squeeze on failing social landlords, as a result of the tragic death of Awaab Ishak.
The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has revealed overnight that £14m is to be given to seven areas with high numbers of poor privately rented homes “to crack down on rogue landlords and test new approaches to driving up standards.”
Projects include £2.3m for Greater Manchester – including Rochdale and surrounding councils - to increase the use of fines where a landlord is found to have committed an offence; £678,000 for Leeds to use behavioural science to change culture among landlords, improving knowledge and skills; and £1.14m for Cornwall to create a database of private rented accommodation in the area and record standards to target better enforcement action.
Meanwhile the social landlord at the heart of the Awaab Ishak case - Rochdale Boroughwide Housing - will now not receive its expected £1m funding from the Affordable Homes Programme or receive any new AHP contracts for new homes, until the Regulator of Social Housing has concluded its investigation and it can prove it is a responsible landlord.
Gove says the government will also continue to monitor housing standards of RBH tenancies closely, working with the Regulator and Ombudsman, to ensure that tenants have appropriate housing.
As part of a wider crackdown on poor standards, Gove adds that he will also block any housing provider that breaches the Regulator’s consumer standards from new AHP funding until they make improvements. Gove will also consider stripping providers of existing AHP funding, unless construction has already started on site.
The move comes after Gove wrote to all councils and housing associations last weekend, saying they must raise the bar dramatically on standards and demanding urgent action where people complain about damp and mould.
Gove says: “RBH failed its tenants so it will not receive a penny of additional taxpayers’ money for new housing until it gets its act together and does right by tenants. Let this be a warning to other housing providers who are ignoring complaints and failing in their obligations to tenants. We will not hesitate to act.
“Everyone deserves the right to live in safe, decent home and this Government will always act to protect tenants.”
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