What are Labour's plans for the private rented sector?
With opinion polls putting Labour ahead of the Conservative party, what would be Labour's plans for the private rented sector if it were to win the next general election?
The latest Ipsos Political Monitor opinion poll taken in January 2023 found that 66 per cent of respondents think that it's time for a change in leadership in the UK, while 39 per cent feel that Keir Starmer would be the most capable Prime Minister.
The Labour party has now started to consider its next election manifesto, with input from various campaign groups. Here's an overview of what a Labour government could therefore mean for the UK's private rented sector (PRS) if Labour were voted into power in 2025.
A new renters' charter promised
In September 2022, Labour revealed its plans for rental reform through a renters' charter. The party would publish a white paper in its first weeks in power, and would consult on how to stabilise rent increases with industry groups. The charters' proposals would then be put to a vote within 100 days of winning a general election.
The Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Lisa Nandy, says: "For private renters we will tilt the balance of power back to you through a powerful new renters’ charter and a new decent homes standard – written into law."
Plans for this have now advanced, with Nandy announcing that the party will launch a review of the PRS, led by Stephen Cowan, the Leader of the Hammersmith and Fulham council.
What would be included in Labour's renters' charter?
In line with the Renters' Reform Bill proposals, the would charter reiterate support for plans to abolish section 21 "no fault" evictions, create a legally binding Decent Homes Standard, and create a national landlord register, echoing the existing proposal of a Property Portal.
However, the charter is also expected to cover some new measures and variations on the existing proposals:
- The charter plans to end "automatic evictions for rent arrears"
- It would introduce a four-month notice period for landlords
- It would also include the right for renters to have pets as well as making "reasonable" alterations to a property
- Schemes to make tenancy deposits "more portable" would also be examined
Ben Beadle, the National Residential Landlords Association's Chief Executive, says that: “The combined effects of what Labour is proposing, in particular essentially making rent payments an optional extra, will seriously damage confidence and with it, the supply of homes to rent when demand is already high. Tenants will suffer in the long run."
A social housing and home-ownership focus
Labour has also thrown its support behind social housing, with Nandy saying that it will "be the first government in a generation to restore social housing to the second largest form of tenure," bumping the private rented sector back into third position.
Party leader Keir Starmer additionally declared a focus on making owning a home a reality for 70% of the population, saying that Labour will become “the party of home ownership in Britain today”.
It would achieve this through a new mortgage guarantee scheme, for first-time buyers, and planning reforms to help communities get "shovels in the ground".
This may come at a price for landlords as Starmer says that there will be "no more buy-to-let landlords or second homeowners getting in first."
Support for rent control or a rent freeze
In addition to these new proposals, Labour has previously been in support of introducing rent controls, particularly the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
Rent caps were ruled out by the current government in the A Fairer Private Rented Sector Renters' Reform Bill white paper.
However, Starmer has since declared that Labour would introduce a "Take Back Control Bill", devolving powers to local councils for various issues, including housing.
This change may see local councils given the power to implement rent controls or a rent freeze in their local areas - something that Nandy has previously supported.