Campaign to upgrade 1m buy to let homes

A new venture aims to upgrade around a million buy to let homes that offer tenants allegedly poor living standards over the next five years.

British Gas has joined housing charity Shelter in the campaign – but admit they have no idea how they will carry out the project.

Currently, no money is available and neither group has any idea of how to move forward, said a British Gas spokesman.

“It’s a declaration of intent. First we plan to survey the private rental sector to find out what needs to be done and then we will take it from there,” said the spokesman.

The premise of the exercise is data from the government’s English Housing Survey which says:

  • 605,000 private rented homes are poorly heated and insulated
  • 856,000 have poor electrical or carbon monoxide safety or damp problems
  • 322,000 are badly maintained, including broken heating

The partnership – Better Homes for Britain:  A blueprint for change – includes a joint commitment to:

  • Improve the standard of one million homes in the private rented sector over the next five years
  • Help private landlords meet the statutory minimum standard for private rented homes
  • Policy recommendations to raise standards in the private rented sector

British Gas managing director Phil Bentley said: “We visit 50,000 homes everyday keeping our customers’ homes safe, warm and working.  However, private rented homes are lagging behind owner occupied homes and the social housing improvement programmes we are proud to support.

“Dilapidated properties with dangerous or inefficient old boilers and inadequate insulation are far too prevalent in the private rental sector. We need a culture of energy efficiency, and standards need to be raised.”

The campaign aims to bring standards for private rental homes in line with social housing. To meet the statutory minimum standard for social housing, homes must:

  • Be in a reasonable state of repair.
  • Have reasonably modern facilities and services.
  • Provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort.

Shelter CEO Campbell Robb, said: “A lack of affordable housing and the difficulties facing young people today in getting on the property ladder mean renting is now a long-term way of life for more and more families across the country.

“With these increasing levels of demand, it is totally unacceptable that so many of our rented properties are still not meeting the basic standards families should be able to expect in their home.  At Shelter we see so many shocking examples of families forced to live in homes that are damp, in appalling condition or even unsafe to live in.”

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