Private Rented Sector

Part of Opposition Day — [2nd Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 3:39 pm on 25th June 2014.

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Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government) 3:39 pm, 25th June 2014

There is no evidence from Scotland that that has happened. I genuinely believe that people out there who are listening to this debate, many of whom will be experiencing these fees, will not understand the hon. Gentleman’s argument today.

Short-term tenancies are now the norm. Shelter’s mystery shopping of letting agents found that 29 out of 30 of them told landlords that they would offer the property on only a six or 12-month assured shorthold tenancy. As a result, 30% of private renters worry about their landlord or letting agent ending the contract before they are ready, and two-thirds would like to have the option to stay in their tenancy longer if they wanted to.

Living in uncertainty and being forced to move on regularly is not just a nuisance and expensive; it has other costs, too. Families are unable to settle or put down roots, and, as my hon. Friends the Members for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) and for Hyndburn (Graham Jones) reminded us, children often have to change schools a number of times or face long journeys and they lose any friends they make. They are rootless and their education faces massive disruption. These are the families who are not on doctors’ lists and not accessing preventive health care; it is members of these families who are turning up at A and E and being diagnosed with stage four cancers.

We have heard that families in the private rented sector are nine times more likely to move than those who live in other tenures—and often forcibly through eviction, as movingly described by my hon. Friend John McDonnell. That is why Labour has set out our proposals to legislate for longer-term tenancies. As my hon. Friend Emma Reynolds rightly said, Labour’s proposals to make longer-term tenancies the norm and to set a ceiling on rent increases would give families the support and the security they need to budget.