Shortly before the election I wrote in this blog about how underinvestment in housing was leading to a situation where hard working people were struggling to keep a roof over their head. At the time, I said that this was a national problem that required action at the national level. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t take action ourselves here in Tameside.
This week we took a big step towards making that action a reality. The council met with the National Landlords Association at Denton Golf Club to discuss how we can work with the private rented sector to meet housing needs as well as provide an alternative to home ownership in Tameside. Over the last ten years, the private rented sector in Tameside has increased from 9.8% of all housing stock to 14.3%; an overall increase of 45.9%. Unless there is some radical change in housing policy at the national level I expect that figure will continue to increase in the future. If we want to find a solution to housing in Tameside, we need to bring the private rented sector into the discussion. It’s as simple as that.
Part of this is working together to make the private rented sector in Tameside the best it can be. For every horror story about dodgy landlords or irresponsible tenants there are many more that take their responsibilities seriously and do their best for the properties they rent or own. That’s why we intend to set up a Tameside Rental Standard to promote good practice and lay out what is expected for all parties in a private renting agreement. This will allow us to encourage good landlords and tenants and focus our common resources on the minority that attempt to dodge their obligations and cause the greatest problems.
The other focus of the meeting was discussing how the private rented sector can do more for vulnerable children and adults. As the private rented sector expands and access to social housing becomes more challenging it is inevitable that greater numbers of people who require safeguarding and services will find their way into privately rented accommodation. We cannot let that mean that they are beyond our help if they require it. We intend to make sure that all private sector landlords are provided with the information and contacts they need to protect the health and well-being of their tenants.
It is my hope that this meeting will be the first milestone in our journey to create a sustainable, high-quality private rental sector in Tameside for the benefit of both landlords and tenants. It is in all our interests to make sure that this works, and I am confident that if we work together we will able to do exactly that.