Mayoral candidates sitting at a table in the Manchester Evening News offices. From left to right: Hannah Spencer, Laura Evans, Andy Burnham, Dan Barker, and Jake Austin. Each candidate has a notebook, a mug, and a bottle of water. There is a yellow backdrop with the Manchester Evening News logo.

Mayoral elections: Greater Manchester candidates agree ‘a set of standards’ should be placed on student accommodation after election

  • Labour and Lib Dem candidates agree student accommodation should be included in proposed Good Landlord Charter
  • Candidates say affordable housing and public transport would be main focusses to benefit young people
  • Andy Burnham to provide new monthly bus pass if re-elected

Current Labour mayor Andy Burnham and the Liberal Democrats’ Jake Austin have confirmed student accommodation would be included on the Good Landlord Charter if they are elected in the upcoming mayoral election.

Manchester Town Hall Building, United Kingdom
Manchester Town Hall Credit: Christopher Czermak/Flickr

The proposed Good Landlord Charter would put more responsibility on landlords to provide good-quality housing conditions for tenants. It would also give tenants the right to request a property check if they believe their housing conditions to be unsafe.

The promises came in the latest of a string of mayoral hustings events as candidates outlined their commitments for the role of mayor ahead of the election on 2 May.

They follow the release of the eighth National Student Accommodation Survey, which revealed that 45% of students think their accommodation is poor value for money. Over half of the respondents reported issues with damp or a lack of access to water or heat, despite rents having risen by almost 15% over the past two years and expected to rise more.

A graphic from the National Union of Students that shows the most widely-reported issues within student accommodation in 2024. It reads:
37%: Damp
29%: Lack of water/heating
18%: Disruptive building work
18%: Rodents/pests
13%: Inappropriate/unannounced landlord visits
9%: Smoke/carbon monoxide alarms not working
8%: Dangerous living conditions
6%: Bed bugs
5%: Break in/burglary
4%: Other

Mr Burnham said: “It’s accountability is what we need, so I’ve proposed the Greater Manchester Good Landlord Scheme – I’m pleased to hear some support for it today.

“There’ll be a set of standards for the social and private rented sector, but also for purpose-built student accommodation as well.”

Liberal Democrat candidate Jake Austin at the mayoral hustings at the M.E.N. offices Credit: Leslie Kerwin

Mr Austin said he “absolutely would” include student accommodation on the charter, although expressed concern that tenants who requested property checks may be at risk of being issued a no-fault eviction, particularly by landlords who do not opt-in to the scheme.

Dan Barker of the Reform party said that he did not believe student landlords “should be treated any differently” to those in the social and private sectors, but did not definitively say he would include student accommodation on the charter if elected.

The Green Party’s Hannah Spencer and the Conservative’s Laura Evans did not mention students in their response.

A row of terraced houses stretching into the distance. The weather is bright and sunny. There are no people in the picture.
Student rental houses in Fallowfield, Manchester Credit: Leslie Kerwin

Affordable housing

Candidates were also asked how young people could expect to benefit more generally after being elected.

Ms Spencer, Ms Evans, and Mr Barker all cited affordable housing as a particular issue for young people: all three said they would be committed to building more homes to tackle the rental crisis.

Green Party Mayoral candidate speaks to a reporter from Manchester Evening News in the Manchester Evening News offices. She is holding a pile of notebooks and engaged in conversation. Behind her is a yellow backdrop with the Manchester Evening News logo.
Green Party candidate Hannah Spencer at the mayoral hustings Credit: Leslie Kerwin

“I think [the private rental sector] is one of the biggest issues that a lot of young people face,” said Ms Spencer. “Bolton has seen one of the highest increases in rents across the country, the same with Wigan and Rochdale.

“I would immediately look at commissioning a rent report to see what the impact of bringing in rent controls would be. A lot of regions and cities across Europe do this as a standard, and we are lagging behind.”

Mr Barker said affordable housing was the best way to provide students with opportunities for work and getting on the property ladder, but that “rent controls don’t work”.

“The more supply there is in terms of housing, the more rents will come down and be more affordable.”

Bee Network bus livery Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Public transport

Meanwhile, Mr Burnham and Mr Austin both said public transport would be their main focus for benefiting young people.

Mr Austin said: “One of my key priorities will be to focus on public transport and on extending out the Metrolink to boroughs that are currently disconnected, alongside local bus service routes.

“It’s not just about connecting regions across Greater Manchester to the city centre: there are wonderful regions all across Greater Manchester that are currently disconnected from that network, and for me, it’s about adjusting that lens of transport so that we can reconnect all those suburbs to Manchester so that young people, who rely on it more than anyone, can benefit more than most.”

Andy Burnham leans over the hustings desk to speak to a crowd of sixth-form students in suits, who are clearly engaged with the conversation.
Andy Burnham speaks to guests at mayoral hustings Credit: Leslie Kerwin

Mr Burnham said public transport would be a priority for investment, and committed to provide a £80 monthly bus pass, which would be half-price to 18 to 21-year-olds.

“I’m conscious that lots of people come to study here – they’re based in Greater Manchester, but they’re travelling to university every day,” he said.

“If you’re helping young people with transport, you’re helping them get on in life, and the economic benefits of those policies multiply by helping people connect to opportunity and educational training.”

Bar chart of the predicted General Election votes per party. Figures obtained from Electoral Calculus. It reads:
Labour: 43.3%
Conservatives: 23.6%
Reform UK: 12.1%
Liberal Democrats: 10.2%
Green Party: 5.5%
All other parties: 5.3%
Predicted General Election votes per party, 29 March 2024 Credit: Electoral Calculus/Leslie Kerwin


The elections for Greater Manchester mayor take place on 2 May, alongside local elections.

Voter ID will be required, which can be applied for by 24 April.

Local polling stations can be found here.