Thursday, 15 May 2014

Cambridge MP Pushes For More Help For Private Rental Tenants

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has voted in favour of proposals to ban tenants and prospective tenants being charged exorbitant fees.

The government has already agreed a package of measures to help tenants including a requirement for letting agents to offer redress, facilities for longer term tenancies and an end to hidden letting fees.

But Julian is concerned that they do not go far enough, and proposed a Private Member’s Bill, tabled in the Commons a couple of months ago, to tackle the problem of excessive letting fees. The Bill calls for a review of the law as it applies to the private rented sector and makes it easier for councils to set up landlord and property accreditation schemes. It also calls for a housing ombudsman service to be set up to deal with tenants’ complaints.

“Renting in Cambridge has been difficult for many years, because of the huge demand for properties,” said Julian. “This leaves renters in a poor position when it comes to negotiating or looking for alternative letting agents.

“I am pleased to see that the need to give tenants better protection has cross party support and that some of our proposals are already being implemented.

“There is no overarching regulation of the private rental sector and I am worried that tenants are at the mercy of unscrupulous agencies which see tenancies as a way of making extra money over and above the standard charges.

“While addressing this issue we also need to get more affordable homes built and bring empty homes back into use. The Lib Dem-led Cambridge City Council has been leading in this area with a strict planning policy to make sure there are 40 per cent affordable homes on all new developments. It is also releasing land for much needed new homes, setting a priority to re-use brownfield sites. And it is investing £286 million to construct 2,000 new council houses in Cambridge, the first to be built for many years.

“I will continue to push for a fairer deal for people in the rental sector and keep the pressure on the government to do everything it its power to address the shortage of affordable homes.”