BRITAIN’S HOUSING CRISIS – My article for the Tameside Reporter

71872_628A_628_IMG_01_0000Britain faces the biggest housing crisis in a generation with fewer than half the number of new homes we need being built.

Yet this Tory-led government refuses to do anything about it with house building now at the lowest level since the 1920s. Their record on standing up for people who rent from private landlords is equally shocking. Last month the Tories voted with the Lib Dems against Labour’s proposals to ban letting agent fees on tenants, proving that they have abandoned Generation Rent.

I’ve spoken to many young people in Tameside who have all but given up on their dreams of ever owning their own homes. While the flexibility of renting may suit some, others have been forced into the private rented sector as the only available option. But it’s not just young people who are affected; in England nine million people are living in rented homes today, over a million families, and over two million children.

Renters are now paying record rents and they face rip-off charges by letting agents, unpredictable jumps in their rent and insecure tenancies. These problems affect too many people. That’s why we need to take action to reform the private rented sector so tenants and landlords can both get a fair deal.

The next Labour government will change the law to make three-year tenancies the norm and protect against excessive rent increases to give tenants the stability they deserve.  We will also take action to ban unfair letting agents’ fees for tenants, saving renters an average of £350 in costs.

The private rental market has changed and now the law has to as well. We won’t get the change we need under the Tories. Like the Tories, the Lib Dems have also abandoned Generation Rent. Nick Clegg has been clear that rather than introduce meaningful reforms to ban rip off letting agent fees he will side with the Tories.

On day one of report stage of the Consumer Rights Bill, Labour tabled an amendment to ban letting agents charging fees to tenants. The Government voted against this proposal.

They are clearly on the wrong side of the argument. Shelter research reveals that of those who had used a letting agency in the last three years 27% had to borrow or use a loan to pay fees and 17% cut down spending on heating or food to cover the costs.

Only Labour will improve the private rented sector to end the unfairness and make it work for working people in my constituency and across the country.

While the Tory-led Government refuses to act, a Labour Government will give families the security of a longer tenancy and predictable rents to stop excessive rises so that they can manage tight family finances and plan ahead.

This article was originally published in the Tameside Reporter

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