Thursday, 1 May 2014

Labour policy on private rents

Just occasionally a policy announcement makes me excited.  This is one.  Summary from the Labour press office is below:
 
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Ed Miliband will today launch Labour's election campaign in Redbridge, announcing plans to stop families that rent being ripped off and help them plan for the future with new long-term tenancies.
 
Topline
 
Generation rent is a generation that has been ignored for too long. Ed Miliband has today set about putting that right, with Labour's fair deal for rented housing in Britain: long-term tenancies and stable rents so that people can settle down, know where their kids will go to school, know their home will still be there for them tomorrow.
 
Key points
  • The costs of renting are part of the cost-of-living crisis: Renters are now paying on average £1020 a year more in rent than in 2010 and letting agents charge average fees of £350 every time someone moves house.
  • The private rented sector has changed: 9 million people now rent privately including over 1.3 million families with children and almost 50% of private rented households are over the age of 35.
  • The sector doesn't work for these families: Under the current legislation renters are locked into short term tenancies with only 6 months of security and half of all families renting say that they are worried about unaffordable rent increases.
  • Labour will act: We will introduce legislation to make 3 year tenancies with stable rents the norm in the market and to ban letting agents' fees for tenants, saving families £350.
Background: Long term tenancies
 
We need to deal with the terrible insecurity of Britain's private rental market. Many tenancies last just six months with families at risk of being thrown out after that with just two months' notice with no reason. Some are told to accept huge rent rises or face eviction. It breeds instability and that is bad for tenants, bad for families, bad for landlords, and bad for our society.
 
So today Ed Miliband has announced that the next Labour government will legislate to make three year tenancies the standard in the British private rented sector, giving families who rent the certainty they need. These new longer-term tenancies will limit the amount that rents can rise by each year too - so landlords know what they can expect each year and tenants can't be surprised by rents that go through the roof.
 
Q&A
 
The Tories say this is rent controls?
No. Landlords and tenants will be free to negotiate their starting rent as they are now. But this change will stop big hikes in rent during the tenancy and give families the certainty they need to plan their finances. The Tories used to support longer tenancies for families, by attacking these plans today they have abandoned Generation Rent.
 
Background: Banning letting agents fees
 
If you buy your home, most estate agents will not charge you fees, but those who rent are given no protection and they get charged up to £500 just for signing a tenancy agreement that the Landlord is also paying for. We will legislate to ban these charges by letting agents. Landlords, as the client, would continue to pay charges but we will take steps to make these transparent so they know what they are paying for.    
 
The Tories stand up for a privileged few, and the Lib Dems have supported them all the way.
 
Under David Cameron ordinary working people are an average of £1,600 a year worse off.
 Britain's housing shortage is part of the cost-of-living crisis and David Cameron is making it worse. He won't stand up for hard-working families that rent, are fed up with rip-offs fees and not knowing how long they can stay in their home for. Renters are now paying on average £1,020 a year more in rent than in 2010, and renting is the most expensive form of tenure. 
 
And the Tories aren't dealing with the underlying cause of high housing costs – the lack of homes. David Cameron has presided over the lowest level of house-building in peacetime since the 1920s. We are building less than half the number of homes we need to keep up with demand.