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Labour wants more controls on private rental sector

Labour’s onslaught on the private rental sector continues, with the party now setting out how it will implement its rent controls and other reforms. 

It says in a future Labour government’s first Queen’s speech (which could be as soon as next month) it will:

- cap rents so they cannot rise by more than the rate of inflation during secure three-year tenancies;

- 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;

- penalise rogue landlords by reducing buy-to-let tax relief for those who own properties which do not meet basic standards;

- restrict tax relief – the so-called “wear and tear allowance” - available to such landlords. This currently allows landlords to offset 10 per cent of annual rental income – sometimes worth thousands of pounds – on the basis of capital depreciation of furniture and appliances. It can be claimed even when they have not incurred any real costs.

These new announcements follow previous measures which Labour has already set out for the sector which include:

- 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, which Labour claims will save the average renting household £625 over the next parliament;

- setting up a national register of landlords which will enable rogue landlords to be identified and judge whether their proper meet basic standards.

Labour describes the private rental market as operating in a way which, currently, “is making the dream of home ownership increasingly unaffordable with numbers of people owning their own house falling to their lowest level for 30 years.”

The party says there are now 11m people – including 1.5m families with children – renting privatelt “with many forced to rent for the long term but stuck in a short term private rental market with the default tenancy agreement lasting just six to 12 months.”

In particular, Labour claims that almost 50 per cent of private rented households are over the age of 35 “and many of this group want the same security and stability they would have if they owned a home.”

It says its own private polling shows that 66 per cent of private renters would like the option of staying in their tenancy longer and 79 per cent would like more predictable rents.

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