Bristol councillors have today passed a joint Labour-Green motion aimed at levelling the playing field in the private rented sector.
As well as resolving to ask the government for new powers to introduce rent controls, which is likely to be the recommendation of the city’s Living Rent Commission, the council has now formally committed to a raft of other measures to tackle the “increased power imbalance between tenants and landlords”.
We’re pleased to be able to say that the Cable has played a role in this process. One of the motion’s recommendations is to introduce a public database of enforcement notices given to landlords who break the rules, if the government doesn’t bring in a national landlord register.
It was a year ago that we reported on London’s Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker and asked if it could make a difference in Bristol’s rental market. A database would mean greater transparency when landlords have been prosecuted for breaking the law, allowing tenants to see if their current or prospective landlord has been up to no good.
Green councillor Tom Hathway, who brought the motion with council housing chief Tom Renhard, acknowledged our reporting had inspired thought around whether London’s landlord checker could work in Bristol.
“The Cable highlighted the success of a rogue landlord database in London, and actions in the motion now include reviewing enforcement policy and maintaining a public database of enforcement against rogue landlords in Bristol if the government’s proposed landlord portal doesn’t materialise.”
Also included in the motion were proposals aimed at addressing a number of high-profile issues facing renters, such as affordability, living conditions and law-breaking by landlords. Examples are a data-driven ‘living rent index’ that would show what affordable pricing for rentals should look like, a crackdown on criminal letting agents who do not observe the agency fees ban, and efforts to end the phenomenon of ‘bidding wars’ on rental properties.
The motion is a significant step in the right direction for addressing Bristol’s housing crisis, a long-standing problem which has grown sharply during the pandemic and the cost of living crisis.
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