Fury over UN visitor who tells Britain to clean up its private rented sector

Fury over UN visitor who tells Britain to clean up its private rented sector

A high-level row has broken out over a United Nations investigator who has called for the UK’s private rented industry to be regulated.

The UN special rapporteur for housing, Raquel Rolnik, has also demanded the abolition of the so-called bedroom tax in the social rented sector following a two-week fact-finding tour of the UK.

She hit out at UK’s housing policy as being ‘retrogressive’, but Tory chair and former housing minister Grant Shapps said her report was an ‘absolute disgrace’.

He accused her of coming to the UK with a preconceived agenda, without invitation, and said she had not not met government departments. He is to complain to the UN.

However, Rolnik, who comes from Brazil, insisted: “This was an official visit – I was invited by the UK government and it was organised by the UK government.”

In her preliminary report to the media, she expressed concern about the ‘deterioration’ of the right to housing in the UK, saying the whole system had been weakened by making home ownership a privilege compared with other forms of tenure.

She went on: “I am concerned about the conditions of private renters, as the reduction in the social housing stock and the credit downturn has forced a higher percentage of the population, notably young people, to the private sector, with substantial impact on affordability, location and tenure security.”

She recommended regulation of the private rented sector, which she said should offer greater security of tenure. She did not rule out rent caps, and hit out at the Help to Buy scheme, which she said was raising house prices and rents.

She suggested that the bedroom tax was a breach of human rights.

Her report is due to be officially published next March.

Shapps described her as “a woman from Brazil, which has 50 million people living in inadequate housing”.