More legal protection for private tenants needed

Labour Councillors are supporting the Shelter campaign to give additional legal protection to the thousands of people in Westminster who rent from private landlords. Unlike those buying a home through an estate agent, those using a letting agent have little protection if things go wrong.

On 6 March 2013, the House of Lords voted in favour of an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform bill to require letting agents to provide the same consumer protections expected of estate agents. The Shelter campaign is calling on the Government to accept the new clause to the bill when it returns to the House of Commons after Easter. This is a unique opportunity for the government to ensure greater protections for millions of renters.

• Three in four renters want there to be independent redress , which current laws do not guarantee
• 61 per cent of renters want better regulation of letting agents
• Around 40 per cent of letting agents currently operate outside existing voluntary regulation and redress schemes . Many of these are guilty of the worst practices affecting renters.

Shelter say that this simple change will not lead to significant additional costs. According to research by RICS, it would actually provide a net benefit of £130 million to the UK economy over ten years.

With rising costs, insecurity and poor standards across much of the private rented sector, now is a difficult time for many renting their home. This simple change – while not solving all the problems with letting agents – would help make things better, giving private tenants greater security and someone to turn to if things go wrong.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, said;

“With so many people in Westminster renting from private landlords, it makes total sense to strengthen protection for tenants when things go wrong. The Shelter campaign has hit the right spot and the benefits for many Westminster residents would be enormous. “

You can sign the Shelter petition at http://action.shelter.org.uk/page/speakout/rental-vote?js=false&source=20130327cableemail&utm_medium=email&utm_source=shelter&utm_campaign=20130327cableemail

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