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Labour anounce rental reform plans

The Labour Party leader is pledging a package of very welcome reforms for private rented tenants. The announcements include:

- A ban on rip-off fees charged to tenants by letting agents.

- Longer term tenancy agreements of three years, with capped rent increases during this term.

Ed Miliband is also expected to reassert Labour's pledge to build 200,000 homes per year by 2020.

PricedOut have long called for letting agent fees to be scrapped for tenants in England and Wales, as is the case in Scotland. Referencing, credit checks and inventories are services for the landlord, so it is only right that landlords pay for them. These fees are always inflated to far beyond a reasonable cost for the service and in our view are a clear example of letting agents profiteering from the housing crisis.

With over a million children now living in private rented housing, longer contracts are essential to give families a stable home. PricedOut will be pushing Labour and their rivals to go further and instigate a minimum standard tenancy term of five years. Providing stable homes in the private rented sector will also ease the desperation the majority of tenants feel to own rather than rent, which should help cool down house prices.

Longer letting agreements only mean anything if there is a limit to how much the rent can be increased within the term, so the rent caps included in the announcement are a vital but modest part of the pledged reforms.

Finally, while Labour do seem to recognise that there is a desperate need for new homes to be built, 200,000 per year will not be enough to improve affordability in the housing market. If we are to truly get to grips with the housing crisis, we need to see 300,000 homes per year right away, with a focus on building them in the areas where unaffordability is worst.

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If only house prices had kept in line with food

If house prices had risen at the same rate as food prices, the average house would now cost £30,000

It's no secret that PricedOut think that house prices have become far too expensive. A roof over your head is an absolute basic that everyone needs to be able to afford. Therefore it's interesting to compare house prices to the cost of another life essential - food.

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Help to Buy prices out six times more people than it helps

Nearly a quarter of a million private renters have been priced out of home ownership since the government announced its flagship Help to Buy scheme, according to analysis from PricedOut, the campaign for lower cost housing, as they launch a manifesto to fix the housing market. 

Around 18,875 households (many of which will have two earners) have used the scheme to date, but by stimulating a frenzy in the housing market which has pushed up prices for first time buyers by 8%, the government has made home ownership unaffordable for 245,000 people who could have afforded it before George Osborne’s announcement in March.

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Housing crisis hits labour market

Landlords cash in on the job prospects of the young

Young people who move to cities with more job vacancies will be £1002 per year worse off because of higher rents, according to new analysis from PricedOut, the campaign for lower cost housing.

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Article for Conservative Home: Cameron and the housing crisis

This article was originally published on Conservative Home.

David Cameron has started 2014 by hailing the success of the Help to Buy scheme, which has given six thousand people access to high-value mortgages since its launch in October. The timing displays the Prime Minister’s recognition that housing will be the central political battleground in the year that UK parties will forge their general election manifestos. However, the Coalition’s flagship scheme for owner-occupation is a long way from addressing a crisis in housing that has seen the first-time buyer’s average age rise to 37, while housebuilding rates have stagnated.

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