4% rent properties unfit for habitation

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SOME four per cent of private rental properties are considered unfit for human habitation.

The scale of problems in the island’s private rented sector emerged as a consultation was launched into draft legislation which aims to drive up standards.

The Landlord and Tenants (Private Housing) Bill 2013 will make it illegal to operate as a landlord unless they are registered and meet a set of minimum standards.

A voluntary Landlord Registration Scheme is also being launched as a pilot for the scheme that will become mandatory under the new legislation.

In 2001 there was about 7,000 private rented properties, making up about 14 per cent of the island’s housing stock but by 2007/08 that figure had grown to 17 per cent.

Social Care bosses say four per cent of those properties are unfit for human habitation and 10 per cent are considered to be in a state of serious disrepair.

To be considered fit for human habitation, a property must be structurally stable, wind and watertight, substantially free from rising or penetrating damp and in full compliance with fire safety regulations.

Social Care Minister Chris Robertshaw MHK said he hoped that the Landlord and Tenants Bills will come into law in the first half of next year - but the voluntary registration scheme is up and running already.

He said he had seen first hand the problems of bad housing while canvassing in his Douglas East constituency ahead of the general election.

The Minister said the majority of landlords were responsible but there were a small number that were not, just as there is a minority of bad tenants.

He said it was important that the process of registration is not bureaucratic.

The Landlord Registration Scheme will enable landlords to register for the scheme voluntarily so that the process can be fully tested before becoming mandatory. Information on how to apply for voluntary registration can be found at www.gov.im/socialcare/housing/vlrs.xml or by calling 685187.

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