Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has made a clear pledge to tighten regulations surrounding the private rental sector.
In an interview with The Guardian newspaper McDonnell says: “Landlord licensing is not fit for purpose and the problem of rogue landlords is extensive. We need an effective scheme, local authorities that are properly resourced and improved tenants’ rights.
“We [Labour] are running a consultation to consolidate the powers available to local authorities and I would be in support of a national licensing scheme, in order to make regulation consistent for all landlords across the country and to stop the rogues from switching local authorities.”
Research undertaken by The Guardian claims that some 44 local authorities operate selective licensing schemes, almost all of them on specific parts of their overall boundary and not on the entire rental stock within their jurisdiction.
It says that some rogue landlords who may have been banned from operating in one area switch their activities and buy in other locations where they are free to own and let units.
In recent months Labour has been increasingly pro-active about the private rental sector.
It says it would scrap S21 of the 1998 Housing Act which, it claims, came into force when it was more difficult for landlords to evict people who paid rent on time; now, the party says, it is the biggest single cause of homelessness thanks to what it calls ‘no fault evictions’.
The party cites research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research asserting that 80 per cent of private sector evictions in 2016 fell into this category.
It also echoes the government in calling for three-year tenancies as standard for private tenants, banning the levying of letting agents’ fees on tenants in England and Wales, and new minimum legal standards to ensure homes are fit for human habitation - the latter two measures are already making their way through Parliament.