Olympic borough fights the Tories’ new Rackmanism

The government has been extremely relaxed about letting landlords in England charge huge rents on tiny, single-room accommodation with diabolical health and safety standards. Newham Council - the Olympic borough - has said enough is enough.

The government has been extremely relaxed about letting landlords in England charge huge rents on tiny, single-room accommodation with diabolical health and safety standards. Newham Council – the Olympic borough – has said enough is enough.

It’s 2013 – a new dawn; a new year.

Same old Tories, though.

Look at this: Newham Council in London has started a compulsory system of landlord registration. Owners of privately-rented homes must now declare criminal convictions and will be monitored to ensure they meet health and safety standards on their properties. If they don’t, they could be fined up to £20,000.

This is terrific – it is, after all, landlords’ responsibility to make sure their properties are clean and in good working order. Scotland already has a compulsory licensing system and Wales is working on one.

But in England, ministers oppose a national scheme.

Scotland is run by the SNP; Wales by Labour. England is ruled by the Coalition government – the Tories, in essence.

From this, we can deduce that Tories want landlords to continue charging substantial rents for people to live in unacceptable accommodation.

We can also deduce that they have no problem with landlords getting rich while tenants live in slums, paying hundreds of pounds every month to live in a single, basic room.

Perhaps the threats posed by faulty wiring or dangerous gas appliances, pest infestations and overcrowding do not mean anything to the Tories. But then, they’ve never experienced those things, have they?

Let’s also bear in mind that, when considering how to remedy what they say is an ever-increasing housing benefit bill, the Tories chose to find ways to cut the benefit: the bedroom tax, the benefits cap (housing benefit is the first to be affected if households are earning more than £500 per week).

Responsibility for making up the lost benefit will fall on tenants, who must find it in what little of their income is not tied up with other bills.

My brother once told me they’d have us back to Rackmanism and rack-renting if they thought they could get away with it. Isn’t that what’s happening?

The Tories chose not to cap rents instead, with supporters of the move saying this would distort the market and would therefore be unnecessary interference.

What are we to make, then, of the fact that other English councils are free to devise their own landlord registration systems, which may differ from that in Newham or those in Scotland and Wales, leading to a piecemeal system with excessive bureaucracy and – yes – distorting the market?

As ever, when we are ruled by those who have known only luxury and cannot understand what it is to survive in poverty and squalor, we get what we’ve always had:

Double standards.

5 thoughts on “Olympic borough fights the Tories’ new Rackmanism

  1. paurina

    I was interested to hear this item on the news this morning – but puzzled, because Manchester has had a compulsory licensing scheme for several years now. It was a pilot, operative in a small number of cities I believe.

  2. Billyboy

    We are ruled by those with only one interest; preserving that status quo. All else is pretence.

  3. Smiling Carcass

    I was born in a slum; 37 Cranby Street, Birmingham 8 for those interested; next to gas works and the coking plant, where brave trades unionists made a stand in the early ‘70’s and defeated a Tory government intent on the destruction of the welfare state and trades unionism.

    As a very young child, we moved to a then relatively new council estate, Varley Road, Birmingham 24, again for those that wish to know.

    The house we shared with another family in Cranby Street was inadequate, to say the least. A shared outside toilet, shared tin bath, in front of an old black-leaded grate which heated the small room, served as a cooker and heated the water in kettles, poised dangerously on the hob.

    When we moved to our new home, in the ‘60’s, it was akin, I suppose, to a rich man’s 5 star luxury hotel; mainly because it was a home of our own. The family we had formerly lived with at Cranby Street continued to endure these atrocious conditions until finally, the estate was torn down- and replaced with warehouses.

    Never, in my wildest forebodings, did I think we might return to the days of overcrowding, slum landlords and extortionate rents.

    Never, in my wildest dreams did I believe that any government would attempt to return us, the creators of their pelf to similar degrading conditions on the basis that we deserve no better.

    Never, in my imaginings did I envisage a working class so intent on destroying each other, in the hope that the bone the master threw to them from the table would be bigger than the next man’s.

    Never was my socialist and revolutionary leaning more supported by the evidence.

    1. Joanna Terry

      Thank you for sharing this smiling carcass, how very well put. What a shambles when people do not stick together but the propaganda has been gnawing away at us for 30 years, we desperately need to correct these distortions. I do my best on BTL comment pieces to sketch out the reality of what is happening, others do the same, when you start to use £’s instead of % the truth often hits home and people wake up, those that are receptive do, I refuse to give up despite the bile thrown at me from the right wing trolls, who by the way are becoming more and more silenced as their loved ones are caught in the mess this gov. has created.
      Happy New Year 2013 is ours.

      1. Smiling Carcass

        Joanna, I sometimes feel I’m fighting a losing battle. I have family members, brought up with me, enduring the same conditions who are staunch Tory; I can only imagine their mouths wide open, waiting for that ‘bigger bone’ when a little unity would see us all with a slice of meat.

        But, when did losing prevent a true warrior from fighting on; live on your knees or die on your feet? I hope I never have to face that reality; I’m not so brave as to say I’d definitely die standing; but I like to think that is just what I would do, if necessary.

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