MP set to introduce Private Member's Bill to control lettings industry
Tuesday 24th July 2012
An MP has said he plans to introduce a Private Member’s Bill to regulate the private rented sector, which he called an ‘utter disaster’.
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour MP for Islington North, said his Bill would also introduce rent controls.
Speaking in an adjournment debate in the Commons, Corbyn said: “I wish to draw to the House’s attention the huge problems facing people living in the private rented sector in this country. This has to be seen in the context of the overall problems of housing supply and need in Britain.
“In 2010, 102,000 new properties were provided in this country, but every year approximately 230,000 new households are created.
“There are 2.8 million people on the waiting list for council housing in the whole country and 3 million people living in the private rented sector.
“I want to talk about the private rented sector because it has been the fastest-growing sector. Even if all the council housing I would like built was built quickly, an enormous number of people would still be living in the private rented sector.
“Private rents have risen at double the rate of wages over the past ten years, while people living in the private rented sector are ten times more likely to move than owner occupiers. Furthermore, rents are rising fast despite the low level of wage rises at the moment and the relatively low levels of inflation. In other words, it costs more to live in private rented accommodation.”
He said that in his own consitutency, 30% of residents live in private rented accommodation.
He went on: “The terms of tenancies and conditions for people living in private rented accommodation tell a very sorry story indeed.”
He added: “We have a system of assured shorthold tenancies – which give tenants a guaranteed tenancy of only six months and, after that, a two-month notice period – along with very high rents. In my constituency it is quite normal to find people living in private rented accommodation who are paying half their take-home pay – if they are in work – on their rent.
“We also have a housing benefit system that militates strongly against people in the private rented sector. The Government have introduced the rent cap, which has limited the levels of housing benefit being paid.
“I am now facing the trauma – and it is a trauma – of seeing large numbers of tenants in my constituency who were or are in receipt of housing benefit being forced to move out, because their housing benefit has been cut and their rents have gone up, and because they cannot afford to meet the difference from other benefits, if they are on them, or their wages.
“There is, in effect, a social cleansing of inner London going on because of the imposition of the housing benefit cap. I stress the point that a large number of people in receipt of housing benefit are working – albeit on low wages, but they are in work.
“The current situation is an utter disaster, but it does not have to be like this, and I hope that things can change.
“Germany, for example, has 60% of its housing provided by the private rented sector. Germany has permanent tenancies and rent controls provided, and a tax regime that encourages good rather than bad management. Germany has a much more stable community and society as a result.
“I hope that the House will be able to return to this issue.
“I hope to introduce a Private Member’s Bill to bring about regulation, rent controls, decency and, above all, security in good-quality homes for those living in private rented accommodation.
“This is a serious issue that must be faced for a large number of people in this country.”
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