Manchester City Council has launched its Manchester Renting Pledge, a list of commitments for private landlords, letting agents and tenants to agree to in order to make renting better across the city.
The Manchester Renting Pledge aims to raise awareness of the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. The creation of the pledge was included as part of the city's rental strategy that was approved by the council's executive in January.
Part of this strategy is to develop a quality private rented sector with well-managed, desirable accommodation, which the council believes is a key driver for economic growth.
The free and voluntary pledge is instead of the selective licensing scheme which has been introduced in cities across the country, including Liverpool, where landlords are charged a mandatory £500 for each property.
Announcing the official adoption of the pledge at an event at Manchester Central Library this morning, Cllr Jeff Smith, Manchester City Council's executive member for housing and regeneration, said: "Manchester's private rented sector is expanding more rapidly than any other UK city – now accounting for 27% of the city's residents – and will continue to expand as the city's economy grows.
"It is essential that these properties offer high-quality, well-managed accommodation and tenants have confidence in their landlord to act responsibly and provide a desirable home. In turn, landlords should have assurance that those tenants will look after their investment and pay their rent."
Through the pledge, tenants commit to looking after the property and alerting the landlord to repairs needed, paying the rent on time, and being a good neighbour. Landlord commitments include providing a written tenancy agreement, protecting a tenant's deposit, repairing problems promptly, and dealing with antisocial behaviour and nuisance.
Speaking to Place North West, Paul Beardmore, director of housing at Manchester City Council, emphasised that the pledge was part of the council's initiative to use resources more efficiently following the cuts from central government funding. While he acknowledged that rogue landlords would have no incentive to sign-up to the scheme, it would help to raise awareness and maintain standards across the majority of the sector.
"We are in the process of gathering data, as it's hard to know who the landlords are. This methodology includes information from council tax and land registry, which together gives a degree of certainty as to who the private landlords are in an area. Cross-referencing that with information about anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping, we can see where the problem areas are.
"There's probably 70% to 80% of landlords that we don't need to deal with, that do their jobs well, and they will benefit from the pledge, while we marshall public sector resources into specific areas."