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Labour MP tells letting agents to explain high rents

A Labour MP has written to letting agents in her constituency demanding they explain high rents and their student allocation policies.

Mary Foy is MP for Durham where students recently camped out overnight to be amongst the first to see accommodation available for the next academic year, beginning in autumn 2023.

The BBC last week publicised the issue and showed students lined up outside lettings agency offices in the city after property lists were released in a process known locally as ‘the drop’ - when much of the city’s accommodation for the academic year is listed at the same time.


As has been the case for many decades, first year undergraduates have guaranteed university-managed accommodation but have to find their own housing after that. Durham Students' Union described the housing market in the city as "broken" and claimed increasing student numbers were "putting students' welfare, and education, at risk".  

Now Mary Foy MP, in her letter to letting agents, says: “The current bulk release of lettings so early in the year creates panic amongst the student body, requiring undergraduates, many of whom have barely had any time to settle into life in a new city, to sign legally binding contracts with little time to make a considered and informed choice."

Foy - who has released details of her letter to the local media - asks that agents respond to four specific questions:

- Why are student houses released so early and in bulk, especially given the previous suggestion under the landlord accreditation scheme that houses would be held until later in the academic year?

- Why are housing costs rising so dramatically?

- How are students being outbid on properties that they believed they had secured, and what processes can be put in place to offer some guarantees to students seeking housing?

- What processes are in place to monitor the quality and condition of student properties?

Foy has told the Durham Chronicle Live news website: "What we are witnessing in the Durham rental market is ludicrous. I have been contacted by huge numbers of students and their parents who are utterly dismayed by the chaos of spiralling rents and limited availability of housing.”

Durham University told the same website: "We have put in place a package of financial support to help students through the cost of living crisis. Like many other UK universities we were obliged by the late change in A level grade boundaries to take in a larger than usual student cohort in 2021. We reduced our intake this academic year.”

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    Nothing to do with immigration then !

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    Why because the country was shut down for 2 years electricity and gas prices have gone through the roof mortgage costs have gone up 400% the. Rises are down to stupid green policy where we can’t use the gas and oil beneath our feet due to green tyranny landlords are heavily taxed heavily and expensively regulated the conservatives caused the problem and unfortunately labour wanted more lockdowns more green tyranny more tax for landlords so the high prices are purely down to our crap POLITICIANS


    well said!

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    What a stupid request. Is she so out of touch about what is going on in the world, the industry and the costs involved. Typical response, just complain without any knowledge or insight!

  • jeremy clarke

    Should there not be a minimum standard that an MP has had to attend school before standing for election?
    Basic economics dear, crazy policies reduce supply, demand continues to rise = increase in price.

  • Rachel Bird

    Why doesn't she write to supermarkets whilst she is at it, why costs of food has gone up and the rest

    Barry X

    Good suggestion... except that supermarkets haven't been hit (so far as I know) by a slew of tax increases both direct and indirect, costly "licensing" schemes on top of existing requirements, increasing burdens of pointless regulation driven by political dogma and obsession - imagine if every shop, let alone supermarket, soon had to have an EPC of "C" and a couple of years later "B" to be allowed to be open to the public?! - and so on.... oh yes, and continuous public vilification of "greedy/ evil" shop keepers, and with "charities" and pressure groups like "generation shopper" (I make it up) demanding more regulation for them on top of all they have to endure as it is?.... I wonder if they had all that the way we do how it would affect things for them?


    @ Barry X - Generation Shopper? Good god, no you have given them ideas.

  • Matthew Payne

    She's only doing it to justify she is fighting their corner, earning her crust as an MP, under some illusory shimmer that she has any influence to change the flowing dynamics of the priivate rented sector single handedly.

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    Perhaps we should DEMAND to know how she justified taking a salary increase and how she justified each and every expense claim. She is doing this for publicity and no other reason. Agents act on the instructions of their client landlords, not on the demands of publicity hungry Labour MPs.

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    The government has put on so much pressure on private landlords (in terms of Taxes, regulation, obtaining mortgages, high mortgages, Section 21 removal, EPC, Elec testing etc etc.) although some are reasonable but they cost money to maintain & by increasing taxes (eg. mortgage interest deduction) its no longer a viable business so a lot of private landlords have sold out & hence there is a rental property shortage - Government have ruined the private landlords rental business & as a result they will also suffer on housing & guess what Labour wants to squeeze private landlords even more so it will get much worse before it gets better!

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    This would have nothing to do with the fact that Durham now have a Selective Licensing scheme in place. which covers 29,000 properties and costs £500 per licence. Many student properties will be classified as ‘small’ HMO’s which although they may not require a licence (always assuming they are outside the area requiring a selective licence), will have more stringent management requirements. Are we really surprised landlords are exiting the rental market? Perhaps the MP should be aware of decisions made which affect her constituents......

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    Um maybe because the Government has scared off landlords will stupid rules, reguations and taxes that no one wants to be a landlord anymore. They also just keep building one and two bedroom pokey flats when people need 3 or 4 beds plus. They blame landlords and letting agents when it is greedy developers and greedy councils wanting revenue from council tax for multiple units in buildings when they should be building larger flats and less units. Students want to live together and HMO's and one and two bed flats are just not suitable.

    Barry X

    @ Ian... not the whole story but all good points and well made.

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    It really doesn’t need a degree in economics.

    2% 2nd home stamp
    3% overseas buyer stamp
    Full removal of interest relief
    Tougher compliance increasing costs
    Tenant fee ban
    Sales market rise after Brexit

    All of the above are reasons to sell and not buy a rental property.

    Only benefit from rising rents is at some point it may outweigh the above.

    Feel like writing her a letter just with those bullet points so she can avoid wasting everyone’s time and govern her constituency.

    Barry X

    @Gideon - isn't it 3% extra SDLT for so-called "2nd homes" (even though they are not our 2nd homes but rental properties)?

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    This MP needs to wake up. Clearly utterly devoid of any common sense or education. It is quite unbelievable how we have Parliamentary people like this idiot. Fortunately, we are a democracy, so we can expose the nutters. The issue in question is nothing new.

  • Peter Grant

    Maybe also, that a 4 bed terraced in the student area of Durham, is now just shy of £500k after SDLT? So around £625 per room without bills?

  • Noel Wood

    Well I was going to comment but everything that needs to be said has been said.
    As a private landlord I have off loaded 15 properties so far. As a letting agent of 25 years I see landlords off loading on a consistent basis. Only yesterday my lettings manager was saying how tough her job has become over the last 3 years (she has been with me 17 years) having to advise tenants their landlord is selling. Tears over the phone. There is nothing available for them when they start to look for alternative accommodation. I am sure the penny will eventually drop in Westminster but it will be too late by then. many will have left the sector. Generation Rent / Shelter have really shot themselves - or more accurately tenants - in the foot (Head in hands emoji).

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    Spot on Noel with the last comment especially. All this push to make a fairer market for tenants has created a rental economy that is literally crippling itself

  • Roger  Mellie

    Labour MP doesn't understand basic economics. Supply and Demand. Shall we also explain falling house prices too?

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    Typical of someone not living in the real world,, and trying to get noticed as opposed to trying to actually do something constructive,,, why on Earth does she think that letting agents have to answer to her,, we should write her 4 questions and demand an explanation I can think of 4 but could not publish lol 😂

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    If I was a Landlord in that borough, she would get a right nasty and rude letter telling her where and when where to go, and stop messing with my business.
    F**K Off

  • Kristjan Byfield

    I've written Mark a nice little thread on twitter setting out just some of the reasons- will she read them? Let's see!


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