The Labour party has announced plans to reform the private rented sector should it come to power.
It would introduce legislation to cap rents so they cannot rise by more than the rate of inflation (CPI) during secure three-year tenancies.
It would also require landlords and letting agents to disclose the rent levels charged to previous tenants so that householders can negotiate the best possible deal at the start of their contract.
Rogue landlords letting sub-standard would be penalised by a cut in buy-to-let tax relief.
These new announcements follow previous measures which Labour has already set out to help people who rent including a plan for:
- Secure three-year tenancies for all people who want them so landlords will no longer be able to terminate rental agreements simply to put rents up.
- A ban on letting agent fees charged to tenants.
- A national register of landlords which will enable rogue landlords to be identified and judge whether their proper meet basic standards.
Labour party leader Ed Miliband said: “Britain only succeeds when working people succeed. But for so many people, life is tougher than it need be – not only at work – but also at home. “Labour will build the homes which local people want to buy. But we will never turn our backs on Generation Rent. And we want to encourage all those responsible landlords who provide decent homes for people and stable income form themselves.
“Labour has a better plan. The security of three year tenancies for all who want them with rents capped, so they can fall but not rise by more than inflation. The rights they need to negotiate a decent deal with landlords and stop rip-off letting fees. And the protection for taxpayers and tenants against bad landlords who are being subsidised for providing accommodation that fails to meet basic standards.
“This is a plan for a stable, decent, prosperous private rental market where landlords and tenants can succeed together.”
Alex Hilton, director of Generation Rent, said the plans are riddled with loopholes.
“Landlords can still kick out tenants after six months, they can still evict tenants by claiming they need to sell, and because there are no controls on rents between tenancies, that gives them an incentive to use those loopholes. Good landlords already treat their tenants fairly, but without better protections, bad landlords will still be able to exploit theirs.
“We’re pleased to see Labour proposing to withdraw tax breaks from landlords, but their plan to penalise negligent landlords is wide of the mark. Landlords letting out unsafe and unhealthy housing should simply be banned from doing so. In order to level the playing field, all landlords should pay a fairer share of tax – a levy of 22% on all rental income would recoup the £9bn housing benefit that goes to landlords and could fund 100,000 social homes a year.”