£2.3bn a year – around £1 in every £10 spent on housing benefit – is going to private landlords renting out sub-standard homes.
The figures, drawn from the official English Housing Survey, show the scale of public subsidy for private landlords whose homes are classed as of a ‘non-decent’ standard – containing a serious hazard, or in a poor state of repair.
The figures are highest in London, where more than £850m per year in housing benefit is going to landlords letting out sub-standard homes, and the South East where the figure is almost £350m. In Yorkshire and the Humber, it is nearly £120m.
Nationally more than one in four (29%) private rented homes are classed as non-decent.
Labour is calling on the government to act on sub-standard rented housing in the housing white paper which expected is expected to be published within days.
The number of households renting privately has grown by nearly a million since 2010, but Ministers scrapped a package of measures to improve private renting set out by Labour’s last Housing Minister John Healey, including a national register of private landlords. In addition Conservative Ministers have since dramatically weakened a key piece of legislation passed in 2006 allowing councils the freedom to license landlords in their area.
Labour are looking at fresh powers for councils to crack down on landlords letting out substandard accommodation, including new licensing powers, tougher fines and funding to compulsory purchase run-down private rented properties.
Commenting, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Housing John Healey MP said:
“Labour wants to see more good landlords renting out good quality homes.
“But with one in four families with children now renting privately, the scandal of sub-standard rented homes can’t go on any longer. Not least because too often the taxpayer pays for these properties through housing benefit.
“Ministers must use the opportunity of the promised white paper on housing to get to grips with the problem.
“A Labour government would act decisively to raise standards for private renters so that no-one has to live in sub-standard, dangerous housing, including by giving local councils new powers to sort out bad landlords in their areas.
“The last Labour government brought in the decent homes standard for council and housing association homes, the next Labour government will make it a national mission to end unsafe and sub-standard private rented housing.”