I beg to move,
That this House
recognises the private rented sector’s growing role in meeting housing need;
notes that there are nine million people, including more than one million families with more than two million children, now renting privately;
notes with concern the lack of stability and certainty that the sector provides to those who rent privately;
further notes the increasing cost of renting and the unreasonable letting agent fees levied on tenants;
calls on the Government to bring forward legislative proposals to reform the sector by banning letting agent fees being charged to tenants and making three year tenancies the standard for those who rent their homes in the private sector;
and further calls on the Government to act on unpredictable rent rises by prohibiting excessive rent rises during longer-term tenancies.
The Opposition have called this debate because we believe that the private rented sector is simply not fit for purpose—in fact, it is more suited to the 1980s than the 21st century. The sector has grown massively in size, and is beyond recognition in terms of the demographics and character of those renting from private landlords. Some 9 million people now rent privately—more than those who rent a social home. More than a third of those who rent privately are families with children, and nearly half are over 35.
Many people who are renting privately do so not out of choice but because they cannot get on the housing ladder and are being priced out, or because they cannot secure a social home. Private renting is not a cheap alternative—far from it. In fact, it is the most expensive type of tenure. On average, people renting privately spend 41% of their income on housing, compared with 30% in the social rented sector and 19% for owner-occupiers, but that extra expense is not buying greater stability or higher standards. In fact, those who rent privately are more likely to live in a non-decent home than in any other tenure. We have one of the most short-term, insecure and unstable private rented sectors in Europe.