Private rented sector 'not fit for purpose' - Labour


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Labour has called for urgent reform of the private rented sector, declaring it no longer fit for purpose, in an opposition day debate on 23 January 2013.

Shadow communities minister Jack Dromey highlighted problems of excessive fees and charges, and bullying of tenants by landlords to stop them complaining.

He told MPs: "We need a private rented sector that protects tenants and landlords from being ripped off by unscrupulous letting agents that do not protect their money and aren't clear about the fees they charge."

Mr Dromey called for longer-term tenancies, a national register of landlords and for local authorities to be empowered to deal with "rogue" landlords.

The nation, he said, should not be divided between those who own their homes and those who rent.

Replying for the government, Mark Prisk said that while there were areas of cross-party agreement, he believed parts of Labour's motion were "flawed".

He said a national register might sound simple but it would be "costly and probably highly ineffective" as disreputable landlords would flout it.

"We need to use the laws we have to crack down on rogue landlords rather than passing new legislation," Mr Prisk said, adding: "Enforcement is the key."

The housing minister agreed that families renting privately need more stability but he said others in the sector enjoyed the flexibility of shorter contracts.

The Labour motion - urging the government to make changes to the private rented sector - was defeated by a majority of 67.

MPs went on to approve a government amendment noting its new £200m "build to rent" fund, by 284 votes to 220.

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