Labour would act now to change the private rented sector so that it works for all – landlords and tenants

23rd January, 2013 2:45 pm

Today Labour has called a debate in the House of Commons that is about the right of everyone to a decent home at a price people can afford. The central question for the debate is a simple one. How do we ensure that the private rented sector provides homes that are sufficiently stable and secure, affordable and of a decent standard?

Labour believes that the private rented sector has an important role to play in meeting housing need. There are, after all, now 8.5 million people, including more than one million families with children, renting privately.  And as a result of the biggest housing crisis in a generation more and more people are being locked out of home ownership and are coming to live in the private rented sector.

Now, we know most people dream of being able to own their own home and we want to see them realise their dreams of home ownership as we did in Government when a million more families were able to buy their own homes. That’s why, before the Autumn Statement, Labour called on the government to use the funds from the 4G auction to build 100,000 affordable homes, bringing forward infrastructure investment, a temporary VAT cut and a bank bonus tax to fund a jobs guarantee for young people. All measures crucial to get Britain building and our economy moving. Building 100,000 homes alone would add 1% to our GDP.

But the fact remains that, at present, more people are finding themselves in the private rented sector and for longer periods of time than in years gone by. We want to see a strong and thriving private rented sector that works for all of them.

However, the evidence shows that all too often renters face being ripped off by unscrupulous letting agents, instability and a lack of security, ever increasing and unpredictable rents, and too many rogue landlords and poor standards. That is why we have called the debate today.

Yes we need a strong and thriving private rented sector to help us meet housing need and tackle the biggest housing crisis in a generation. But it cannot be right that so many people are living in a sector that provides so little certainty about their finances whether it is from excessive fees from letting agents or ever increasing rents. And it cannot be right that too many renters uncertainty and insecurity in their home.

Think of a family, where, having sent their kids to the local school, they cannot be confident they will be able to stay in the same home and keep their kids there because they could be moved on at any time. Or take the landlord from Yorkshire who wrote to me about his letting agent. He told me that the agent planned to charge his tenants, a young couple, £400 just to renew their tenancy agreement and the agent planned to charge him £100 for doing so also. As he pointed out, that’s “£500 for what is a 15 minute job to alter a document.” He said the tenants cannot afford to renew and therefore he was in danger of losing the tenancy. As he put it “this is an example of the rip off charges that these agencies charge and the further pressure that this then puts on the housing market in these tough economic times.”

I couldn’t agree more. That’s why Labour would act now to change the private rented sector so that it works for all – landlords and tenants.  We cannot have two nations divided between those who own their homes and those who rent, which is why Labour is determined to find a One Nation solution to the problems associated with renting.

Labour would regulate letting and management agents to ensure tenants, landlords and the reputation of reputable agents are protected. We would also end the confusing, inconsistent and opaque fees and charges regime by ensuring transparency and comparability. We would take action to build a package of incentive for landlords to encourage them to offer families and renters the stability and security they need to by way of longer term tenancies linked to predictable rents so that they can plan their lives, where send their kids to school and manage their household budgets. And we would introduce a national register of landlords and grant local authorities greater powers to root out and strike off rogue landlords that are found to have broken the rules.

Thus far the Government has sat back and done nothing. We hope they are persuaded to vote for our motion today to ensure we have a strong and thriving private rented sector that works for all.

Jack Dromey is the Shadow Housing Minister

  • Dan

    Living in Newham I rent a 2 bed house for £1150 pcm. Our landlord lives in Spain for 9 months of the year and when we contacted her recently about damp in our bedroom her reply was ‘move into the spare room’. We should have some kind of fit and proper persons test for landlords. And a maximum rent!

  • Quiet_Sceptic

    This enthusiasm for the private rental sector is worrying, the huge growth of the private rental market is not the savior of those priced out of ownership, it is the cause of it. The UK housing stock is relatively fixed, the growth of private rental has come about because landlords have out-competed poorer first time buyers to buy up existing properties that 20 years ago would have been bought by first time buyers, bidding up prices in the process.

    There’s nothing One Nation about a country where more and more people are priced out of home ownership whilst increasing numbers own several.

    • MonkeyBot5000

      Exactly.

      That’s why people like me are stuck paying off our landlords’ mortgages and the high rents mean there is nothing left to put aside for a deposit on our own homes. My landlord doesn’t have to lift a finger and has a nice little nest egg for his pension and I’m going to be working until I die.

      Renting was supposed to be the cheaper option that allowed you to save for your own home, not a way for the baby boomers to feather their nests by syphoning off what little wealth the younger generation have.

  • http://twitter.com/jackjoh01219520 jack johnson

    Jack Dromey has said nothing about building more social housing, which would bring rents down, or capping rents which is a must. Not a word either about restoring housing benefit.That’s what you get when you put a right winger in charge of Labour housing policy.

Latest

  • News Labour leadership hopefuls pass judgement on Osborne’s Sunday trading proposals

    Labour leadership hopefuls pass judgement on Osborne’s Sunday trading proposals

    George Osborne has announced that shops in England and Wales may be allowed to stay open for longer on a Sunday. Labour’s leadership candidates aren’t impressed. As it stands, the law permits smaller shops to stay open all day, but those bigger than 280 sqm are only allowed to be open for 6 hours. Osborne’s proposals would change this, giving elected mayors and local councils the power to relax laws in their area. However, it seems Labour’s leadership candidates who’ve commented […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Labour needs to speak the language of ethnic minorities if it wants to win 2020

    Labour needs to speak the language of ethnic minorities if it wants to win 2020

    What does 20% mean to you? On it’s own it is nothing – a mere solitary figure – but when put into context of the general election it’s the ethnic minority swing from Labour to Conservatives. It shows that the Labour Party have completely missed the messages we should be delivering to the ethnic minority communities across Britain. We’ve totally missed it on the economy, mental health and immigration, remaining as committed and steadfast towards the descriptor “party machine” than […]

    Read more →
  • News Remembering 7/7: tributes from Labour movement

    Remembering 7/7: tributes from Labour movement

    Today is 10 years since the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London, in which 52 people were killed and hundreds were injured. We’ll be collating words and tributes from across the Labour movement today. Ken Livingstone who was Mayor at the time and gave a moving speech which you can read here, has said the following: Thinking of those killed and hurt 10 years ago and the brave people who helped London respond. London did not let the bombers succeed. — […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Don’t just moan – moderates need to organise if they want their voices heard in trade unions

    Don’t just moan – moderates need to organise if they want their voices heard in trade unions

    It did not come as a surprise that Unite nominated Jeremy Corbyn for the Leadership of the Labour Party. There had been a high likelihood this would happen from the moment Jeremy made it onto the ballot paper. The absence of surprise doesn’t make it any more palatable a moment though. Unlike some commentators I am not moved to frenzy by this. Jeremy won’t win the leadership because you need 50% of the votes after transfers to do that, and […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour’s next leader needs to get older voters back on side, urges Liam Byrne

    Labour’s next leader needs to get older voters back on side, urges Liam Byrne

    Liam Byrne has urged Labour’s next leader to get “the silver majority” back on side. Or he warns the party will be left “on the sidelines” at the next election. In an article for the Telegraph (£), the Shadow Minister for Universities, Science and Skills writes the Britain’s “silver majority” – those aged over the age of 55  – might for the first time “make up the majority of voters in the 2020 general election.” Byrne argues that the Tories won […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit