Jeremy Corbyn vows to 'take on dodgy landlords' with rent caps and tenants' charter
Labour has promised to put bad landlords "out of business" as the party unveiled its plans to curb rent rises and beef up tenants' rights.
Jeremy Corbyn will on Monday flesh out Labour's proposals to cap rent increases at the rate of inflation and offer renters new open-ended tenancies as he vows that his party will be "on the side of tenants and take on dodgy landlords".
The Labour leader will promise to bring in a new law covering the private rented sector in the first year of a Labour government, which will include a new "charter of renters’ rights".
The legislation would, Labour says, enshrine the right to an affordable home by bringing in a new nationwide inflation cap on rent rises in a bid to stop "excessive rent hikes".
Local areas facing high rents would also be able to bid for further rent controls in a bid to keep rents affordable, while housing benefit for private tenants would be raised to ensure it covers the cheapest 30% of properties in a local area.
The party is also vowing to hand tenants the right to a "secure rented home" through new German-style open-ended tenancies.
According to Labour, these will allow tenants to leave a property after handing in their notice but ensure they can only be evicted "on tightly defined grounds" such as failure to pay to the rent, committing a crime in the property or the landlord themselves wanting to move back in.
Meanwhile Labour is pledging to set new minimum standards for rented homes, including what the party calls a "property MOT" which would force landlords to complete a yearly inspection of their property with the prospect of a six-figure fine if the property is not up to scratch in areas including gas and electrical safety, damp and disrepair.
Councils would be handed new powers to oversee the annual inspections, Labour said.
Announcing the plans, Mr Corbyn said: "Real change means taking on those who exploit the housing crisis to charge eye-watering rents for substandard accommodation.
"Labour will put power in the hands of tenants with our new charter of renters’ rights, a cap on private rents and funding for renters unions to support tenants to organise and defend their right to safe and secure housing."
Taking aim at the Conservatives' record, Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey added: "The power imbalance in the private rental market is at the heart of our housing crisis, with rents eating up too much of people’s pay, tenants afraid of eviction if they report problems, and families with children forced to uproot their lives at short notice.
"Many landlords provide decent homes that tenants are happy with, but the Conservatives have gifted rogue landlords the freedom to flourish. Labour will put bad landlords out of business.
"Labour will legislate in year one for a new charter of renters’ rights, with open-ended tenancies, new minimum standards and rent controls to make renting more affordable. We will make private renting a better option for all."
The pledge comes as both main parties vie for the support of Britain's growing army of private renters, which has ballooned from 2.8million households in 2007 to 4.5m by 2017.
Boris Johnson last week unveiled plans for a new 'Lifetime Rental Deposit', allowing tenants to transfer their deposit from one property to another in a bid to simplify the process of moving house and cut fees. He also confirmed a Tory pledge to crack down on so-called 'no fault' evictions which can see tenants ousted on spurious grounds.
Labour's proposals have already been attacked by the Resident Landlords Association, which argued they would "hurt tenants".
"It wants longer tenancies, yet is proposing nothing to encourage and support good landlords to stay in the market long-term," the lobby group argued.
"Whilst enabling tenants to remain in their property is a good thing, it needs to be matched by a system that gives confidence that landlords can swiftly regain possession of their properties in legitimate circumstances such as tenant rent arrears or anti-social behaviour. Nothing in Labour’s plans provide that assurance."
And the RLA added: "Its plans for rent controls linked to inflation are also nonsense. The Office for National Statistics has shown that rents are increasing by less than inflation."