Let's tackle rip-off landlords, says Worcester's Labour parliamentary candidate (From Worcester News)
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Let's tackle rip-off landlords, says Worcester's Labour parliamentary candidate
WORCESTER'S Labour parliamentary candidate says she wants to see an end to rip-off landlord tactics - and is pushing for extra top-up fees to be scrapped.
Councillor Joy Squires, who represents the Arboretum area of the city, says too many families and single people in rented properties struggle to manage their finances.
Householders who sign up to rent property often pay add-on fees to agents, which cost around £350 on average.
Labour is firming up its policies ahead of next year's general election and says it wants to legislate to ban the fees altogether, as well as make three-year tenancies the standard timescale.
The Arboretum ward contains a high proportion of rented properties, many of them independently owned.
Cllr Squires said "a longer tenancy and predictable rents" would help people manage tight family finances and plan ahead better.
"Families who are renting in Worcester are often worried about the prospect that their rent could jump up by a big amount from one year to the next," she said. "They want to be able to settle down, put down roots and have peace of mind.
"If you buy your home, most estate agents will not charge you fees, but people in Worcester who rent are given no protection and they get charged £350 on average.
"That’s a lot of money for a lot of people and that’s why Labour will legislate to ban these rip-off charges by letting agents."
But the idea has already ran into opposition from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which has distanced itself from the policy and says scrapping charges is "not the answer".
Other critics also say the idea could lead to landlords investing less cash in the properties they own.
Chris Town, from the Residential Landlords Association, said: "All the evidence clearly shows that rent controls of the kind being proposed would critically undermine investment in new homes to rent."
It comes after the Labour-controlled city council has already agreed to a crackdown on so-called Homes of Multiple Occasion (HMOs).
The cabinet has agreed to force landlords to apply for a ‘change of use’ if they want to turn a property into student rooms.
Under the move, known as Article 4, it also applies to properties rented to three different tenants or more.
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