Labour revives plan to protect private tenants

Ed Miliband says new regulations and a national register will deter 'rogue' landlords

Ed Miliband has laid out plans to protect tenants from "rogue landlords". In a keynote speech on the future of his party, Labour's leader revived calls for a national register of landlords – and greater powers for councils to bar the worst. He said the growing number of families in rented accommodation needed greater security of tenancy if they were to establish stable roots in their communities.

Mr Miliband launched his offensive on the potential exploitation of tenants after it was confirmed that 3.6 million households, including a million with children, are now renting privately – more than in the social rented sector for the first time in almost 50 years.

But landlords last night rejected the calls for more regulation, insisting that they were already governed by more than 100 laws, many of which were not being fully enforced by local councils.

"We cannot have two nations divided between those who own their own homes and those who rent," Mr Miliband told the Fabian Society. "Most people who rent have responsible landlords and rental agencies. But there are too many rogue landlords and agencies, either providing accommodation which is unfit or ripping off their tenants.

"And too many families face the doubt of a two-month notice period before being evicted. Imagine being a parent with kids settled in a local school, and your family settled in your home for two, three, four years, facing that sort of uncertainty." Landlords insist that the cost of a national register, estimated by Labour at £300m, would amount to a tax on both tenants and landlords "at just the moment we need more rented housing". The plan for a register, originally proposed by the last Labour government, was abandoned by the coalition, which said it did not want to impose "burdensome red tape and bureaucracy".

Alan Ward, of the Residential Landlords Association, said yesterday that many tenants did not want to be tied to longer rental agreements. He said: "It is a two-part contract and if they sign for a longer period they will also be committed to stay for that length of time. There are over a hundred laws controlling the private rented sector, but they are not being properly enforced. We do not want more regulations, we want councils to enforce the ones they have, in order to catch the minority of landlords who are criminal."

Mr Miliband's pledge to protect private tenants is the latest phase of a strategy to set his leadership apart from New Labour, which he conceded was "too timid in enforcing rights and responsibilities, especially at the top, and it was too sanguine about the consequences of the rampant free markets. By the time we left office, too many people didn't feel as if the Labour Party was open to their influence, or listening to them," he said.

"One-nation Labour has learnt the lessons of the financial crisis. It begins from the truth that New Labour did not do enough to bring about structural change in our economy to make it work for the many, not just the few. It did not do enough to change the rules of the game that were holding our economy back," he added.

The housing charity Shelter applauded his blueprint yesterday. Its chief executive, Campbell Robb, said: "With homeownership slipping further out of reach for ordinary families, millions are bearing the brunt of Britain's overheated private rental market. Every day Shelter sees the misery caused by rogue landlords, and hears from families worried about another rent rise or sudden eviction from their home."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future