9 million people now rent privately, including over 1.3 million families with children. Almost 50% of private rented households are over the age of 35, and many of this group want the same security and stability they would enjoy if they owned their own home. Rules on private renting have not caught up with the increase in the numbers renting privately, leaving people struggling with the growing cost of renting, and with the insecurity and uncertainty in the current rental market
Rising and unpredictable rents mean that tenants are now paying on average over £1,000 a year more in rent than in 2010, and renting is now the most expensive form of tenure. They are also faced with the prospect that their rent could jump up at any time from one year to the next – with half of all families renting say that they are worried about unaffordable rent increases.
Some letting agents’ fees are a rip-off, and have added to the growing cost of renting for some tenants. Such fees can be up to £500 every time someone moves house.
Lack of security and stability because, under the current legislation, too often tenants only get short-term tenancies of 6 to 12 months, which doesn’t work for people looking to settle down.
Poor standards in the private rented sector, with one third of homes not meeting the “decent homes standard”, a higher proportion than for any other tenure.
Low energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector tend to be worse than in other types of tenure, and significantly worse than households in social housing. The private rented sector has the highest proportion of the very worst properties, and the highest levels of fuel poverty.
To start to address these problems, a massive programme of building council houses would help greatly. We need about 500,000 year, to deal with the huge backlog by providing affordable and secure tenancies. In turn, that would put pressure on rogue landlords, bring down silly prices, and in due course save billions of pounds a year on Housing Benefit.
A Labour government will:
- Give security and peace of mind by legislating for 3-year tenancies, giving tenants a stable home and landlords the confidence to invest.
- End excessive rent increases by putting a ceiling on rent increases during the new 3-year tenancies.
- Ban rip-off letting agent fees for tenants by legislating to stop letting agents charging fees to tenants.
- Drive up standards by introducing a national register of landlords, a new benchmarking system for property standards, and making it easier for Local Authorities to introduce licensing schemes and ensure tough sanctions are in place for bad landlords.
- Set a new target to upgrade the energy efficiency of properties in the private rented sector.
Rob Marris, Labour Candidate for Wolverhampton South West