A plan to improve the quality of private rental accommodation has been signed off by Norwich City Council.
Spurred by a particularly problematic block of flats called St Faith’s Lane in the city centre, where tenants have faced issues including severe mould and have had their deposits withheld, the council passed a motion of memorandum to improve standards.
The motion outlines some of the steps the council will take and includes:
Campaigning for three-year tenancies.
Restrictions on rent increases.
Creating new benchmarking property standards.
Upgrading the energy efficiency of homes.
Some of the steps such as campaigning to scrap tenant fees, are already on their way to becoming law, and the council specifically thanked the officers in the private sector housing teams for ‘their hard work and dedication’ supporting tenants within the city.
Labour councillor Kevin Maguire supported the motion, and at the same time highlighted the role of EH officers in raising housing standards. He said: "Sadly since 1980, we have witnessed a sea change in the attitude that saw housing as a basic human right.
"Not to mention eye-watering rents, deposits, and agents’ fees that private sector tenants often pay, the rights of tenants’ in the private sector have been steadily eroded including their security and, of great relevance here, the standards to which they might expect their homes to be maintained.
"EH officers have fought hard to get the legislation changed and, in the meantime, enforce existing legislation in order to get the best conditions they can for private sector tenants."
Maguire added: "Like their predecessors over a hundred years ago, some private sector landlords cut statutory standards to the bone; invest in poor workmanship; and then maintain their properties at a very basic (some might say sub-standard) level.
"Luckily we have EH officers who also follow their ancestors in the fight against this."