The lack of decent, affordable housing in Coventry is a huge issue and local families will be dismayed that this current Tory-led Government has cut the budget for building new affordable homes by 60 per cent.
This lack of housing has led to a massive increase in the number of people who rent their homes privately, including more than one million families with children. Unfortunately this has also led to a rise in problems associated with renting.
I have had many constituents contact me about the condition of the properties they are living in. Many of them have severe damp issues, electrical problems and broken heating systems which take weeks, if not months, to get fixed because of rogue landlords.
Whilst there are many responsible landlords and rental agencies operating in the private rented sector, there are also too many rogue landlords and agencies who are charging rip-off fees for sub-standard housing and hard-working people in Coventry are being let down and ripped off.
A tenant looking to rent a new home faces a wave of confusing and often hidden fees for administration, credit reference checks, tenancy renewals and for checking in and out of the property. This lack of transparency makes it hard for people to shop around with average fees estimated at £226 per tenant and £76m per year across the whole private rental sector.
Whilst estate agents can be banned for bad practice, lettings agents are not subject to the same stringent complaints and redress procedures. We cannot have two nations divided between those who own their homes and those who rent which is why Labour is determined to find a One Nation solution to the problems associated with renting.
We would introduce a national register of landlords and grant local authorities greater powers to root out and strike off rogue landlords. This would make it easier for local authorities to tackle rogue landlords and to strike off those found to have broken the rules. We would also provide a system for people to get redress when a lettings agent has ripped them off, just like we have for estate agents.
And we would end the confusing and inconsistent fees and charges regime, making fees easily understandable, upfront and comparable across agents.
These policies could make a real difference to people in Coventry who feel trapped and exploited at having to rent their homes from rogue landlords and unscrupulous agencies. We have an opportunity to take action and we mustn’t risk letting this chance slip by.