Labour will provide greater support to the 11.5 million people who rent from private landlords.
Power will be put in the hands of tenants through the creation of a £20m fund to set up and support the expansion of renters’ unions.
Tenants have been hit with a rise of more than £1,800 a year in private rents since 2010. And the end of a private tenancy is the biggest single cause of homelessness in the UK, with the number of cases more than trebling in the last eight years.
There are 1.3 million sub-standard private rented properties in England, home to 490,000 families with children.
Research by Shelter in 2014 found six in 10 renters have experienced at least one of the following problems over the last 12 months: damp, mould, leaking roofs or windows, electrical hazards, animal infestations, and gas leaks.
Renters’ unions, which are well established in many countries, such as Germany, will:
- Provide practical support and information, including being accompanied by an experienced representative to meetings with landlords
- Support tenants in disputes with landlords
- Give renters a stronger national voice and coordinate national campaigns to demand better conditions and a fairer system
Labour will scrap the law that allows landlords to evict tenants without good reason and reverse cuts to legal aid for housing related cases, as well as introducing three-year tenancies, banning letting agent fees, and introducing new minimum legal standards to ensure homes are “fit for human habitation”.
Labour will also give cities the power to introduce rent controls, so landlords can’t use rent hikes as an alternative way of getting rid of tenants.
- A Labour government will make £20m available to fund start-up costs, staggered over three years. Organisations would be eligible to bid for this money to set up or grow independent renters’ unions to provide advice, advocacy and representation on behalf of private tenants. The expectation is that established renters’ unions will become self-funding through member subscriptions would follow.
- The private rented sector has ballooned in recent years, with 4.7m households, or over 11.5m people, now renting from a private landlord. This is more than the number of current trade union members which stands at just over 6m https://www.tuc.org.uk/blogs/trade-union-membership-growing-there%E2%80%99s-still-work-do
- Renters’ unions are well established in countries such as Germany. According to recent research by the Institute for Public Policy Research: “The German Tenants ‘Association (DMB) represents around 320 distinct tenants’ associations who provide legal cover and advice to their members in exchange for membership fees. The 320 organisations that are members of the union are estimated to represent around 1.3 million tenant households in Germany, or some 3 million tenants. https://www.ippr.org/files/publications/pdf/lessons-from-germany-jan17.pdf