Labour to increase private rented sector regulation
Labour has called for the regulation of ‘unscrupulous’ lettings agents in the private rented sector to end ‘rip-off’ charges for tenants and landlords.
In its first housing policy review since Jack Dromey became shadow housing minister last year, Labour has pledged to end the practices of some agents who charge excessive amounts for simple administrative tasks.
It is the first of a series of announcements expected from Labour, focusing on the PRS.
‘We will be rolling out our vision for the private rented sector over the coming months,’ said Mr Dromey. ‘The first stage is to tackle the growing problems in the way lettings agents operate.’
The review highlighted the disparity in fees charged by lettings agents, with fees for checking references ranging from £10 to £275 and those for renewing a tenancy running as high as £220.
There are 3.6 million households in private rented accommodation in England, with the number growing and set to outstrip those in social rented homes by next year according to the government’s latest English Housing Survey.
‘The PRS does have a very key role to play in meeting housing need,’ added Mr Dromey. ‘We want to see an expanding PRS with significant investment in new build but the nature of the sector must be changed so that the interests of tenants and landlords are protected and that reputable lettings agents are not undercut by the rogues.’
He said that the shape and scope of regulation for lettings agents would be decided following consultation with landlords, tenants and agents themselves.
Mr Dromey also confirmed that Labour would be looking into the issues of quality, stability and affordability in the PRS.
‘We are looking at various options because stability and affordability are key, not least as there are 1.1 million families with children in the PRS and growing,’ he said. ‘Families have got to be able to plan where they send their kids to school and their household budgets.’
Meanwhile, the government-commissioned Montague Review is expected to be published this month, looking at how to attract more investment into private rented properties in a bid to increase supply of affordable homes.