Private Rented Sector

Part of Opposition Day — [2nd Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 1:50 pm on 25th June 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Julian Huppert Julian Huppert Liberal Democrat, Cambridge 1:50 pm, 25th June 2014

I am sorry; I have given way twice so I am running short of time.

I hope we can go forward and find alternatives, with greater agreement between landlords and tenants, so that people can turn their houses into homes.

Another aspect that concerns me is the status of guarantors. When they rent, many people are told to find a guarantor who will apparently underwrite the cost of their rent. That is discriminatory for people who do not have somebody who has sufficient income to provide such a guarantee. I am aware of cases in Cambridge where people whose parents live in Scotland have been told, rather bizarrely, that a guarantee from somebody in Scotland is not acceptable because it may not be legally binding. I hope the Minister can clarify that that is not the case. There are a number of students from Scotland who should certainly be able to rent places in Cambridge.

Letting agent fees are a serious issue and makes people’s blood boil. I agree with Shelter and many of the 9 million people who rent that fees are out of proportion. That is why I proposed ending any permission to charge above-cost fees. They should not be allowed. I was interested in the proposal from the Opposition, and I voted for an amendment, but for reasons that I do not understand, the Labour amendment specifically excluded any controls on fees that could be charged for credit checks. I hoped to press the shadow Minister on that. It is a great flaw in the Opposition’s proposal as it means that letting agents who do not wish to comply will charge vast amounts for a credit check and shift all the money on to that.