Five questions on: Rent controls


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The Independent Online

Hasn't the Labour Party promised to bring these in?

Yes. In a pre-election statement, Ed Miliband this week set out sweeping reforms of the private rented housing sector. The changes, he said, would help millions of households caught in the cost-of-living crisis.

What does Labour plan to do?

Mr Miliband promised: "A Labour government will ban letting agents from charging tenants. We will legislate to make three-year tenancies, not short-term tenancies, the standard for those who rent their homes in the private sector."

He added: "These new longer-term tenancies will limit the amount by which rents can rise each year, so tenants won't face the shock of rents that go through the roof."

Sounds like good news for renters but presumably not good for landlords?

Not at all. In fact it could be a big turn-off for buy-to-let investors, reckons Carole Charge of lettings specialist Leaders. "Labour's three-year tenancy proposals are unrealistic," she said. "They do not appear to give landlords the right to terminate the tenancy agreement. Without the right, most investment landlords would pull their property from the market."

What was the Tories' response?

Well, the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles actually announced a similar Tenants Charter last autumn to encourage longer fixed-term, family-friendly tenancies and raise standards in the private rented sector.

So both parties agree this time?

Of course not. Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps said the Labour plan was a "short-term gimmick" and accused the Opposition of "political tampering". Despite his knee-jerk reaction, the issue is set to be firmly on the agenda come next year's general election. Depending on whether you're a landlord or tenant may yet determine which way you decide to vote then.

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