The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has set out a new deal for renters and his plans to make the city-region the first in the country where every rented home must be above the decent homes standard.

The mayor called on the government to back the city-region with a set of new or enhanced powers and resources, using the framework of the city-region’s trailblazer devolution deal, with the aim of shaping a template for national action on the housing crisis.

The mayor’s intention is to put the new set of measures in place by autumn 2024, building on the forthcoming Renter’s Reform Bill and driven by Greater Manchester’s Good Landlord Charter, enabling the city-region to get on with the job of bringing all rented homes up to the decent homes standard – a standard currently only applicable to socially rented homes but not the private rented sector.

The mayor encouraged landlords and ministers to support his vision, with the aim of working together to intervene swiftly where action is needed.

At yesterday’s Housing 2023 conference in Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “Our national mission should be to give all people a good, secure home. It is a simple fact that you cannot achieve anything else in life without that foundation beneath you. You cannot level up any part of the UK when half of its housing stock is falling down and damaging the health of the people who live inside.

“And to those who ask whether it is affordable? It is our failure to provide it that leads to the waste of billions of public money dealing with social crises that come from the lack of it. Good housing is true prevention.

”Personally, I believe we will only get the sea change on housing that we need when we make a good, safe, secure home a human right in UK law.

“That change would require action on many more levels – including much great focus on the state of the existing housing stock and the urgent need to build hundreds of thousands of homes for social rent.

“Until that time, we are using what powers we have in our Trailblazer Devolution deal to set ourselves a 15-year new mission for Greater Manchester: a healthy home for all by 2038.

“In simple terms, that means a home that doesn’t damage your physical health through damp, mould and other physical hazards and doesn’t harm your mental health because you live in fear of eviction.

“To achieve this, we are proposing a complete re-wiring of the system to put power in the hands of tenants – but, in doing so, make it work better for everyone: tenants, landlords and local communities.”

The mayor is calling on ministers to give the city-region the ability to apply a mandatory and ambitious decent homes standard to all rented homes – something which government has already consulted upon and may add to the Renters Reform Bill – alongside a new set of tools to drive improvements in the sector, including:

  • A package of UK-leading tenant protection measures, starting with an independent ‘GM Property Check’ inspection regime of rented properties to find those homes below standards, which would empower tenants to report poor conditions and call for improvement while protecting them from eviction
  • The ability to create a ‘Property Improvement Plan’ for every rented home, giving landlords a tailored blueprint to get each of their properties up to the decent homes standard and beyond, and connecting them to funding and skilled contractors who can get the work done
  • Giving the city-region the powers to acquire properties from landlords who are unable or unwilling to meet standards, ensuring poor landlords exit the sector while retaining and improving their properties for local residents
  • Enhanced enforcement teams within councils with the powers to protect tenants if they have problems with their landlord or home
  • A universal, mandatory Property Portal or register of landlords – a measure proposed within the Renters Reform Bill