TOO many people are paying over the odds for shoddy, insecure accommodation and are at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords, MP Jeremy Corbyn told Parliament on Tuesday in a devastating critique of the private rented sector.
Introducing his private member’s bill to regulate the housing market, the Islington North Labour MP said people were being “socially cleansed” out of the borough as at least half their wages went on keeping a roof over their heads.
He added that housing associations needed to be more tightly regulated as they were “increasingly seeing themselves as being in the property market, rather than in the provision of housing for people in desperate need”.
The bill also calls for fixed five-year tenancies.
Mr Corbyn added that, while nationally 17 per cent of people rent homes privately, in Islington the figure was “well over” 30 per cent, with those in council and housing association homes making up another 40 per cent.
“There are… young professional people who move into London and pay an extraordinarily high proportion of what ought to be a decent wage on private rents,” he said.
“Then there are people on very low incomes who cannot get anywhere near the housing ladder but cannot get anywhere near getting a council property either.
“They are stuck in expensive private rented accommodation, often paying half their take-home pay just to keep an inadequate, expensive roof over their head.”
He said, however, that those placed in the private market by the local authority suffered most.
“They are often in inadequate, badly maintained accommodation with landlords who know that the tenants are in no position to complain about anything,” he said.
Rent controls were needed to bring down the housing benefit bill, he said. “I feel deeply angry when I meet people in my advice bureau every week who tell me they are, in effect, being socially cleansed out of an area they have lived in for a long time because the housing benefit is inadequate for the level of rent charged,” he said.
“They are being forced to scatter all over London and the country… In some wards in my constituency, population turnover is 30 per cent a year, almost all occasioned by the insecurity of the private rented sector. What does that do to the stability of a community?”
The bill is scheduled for a second reading in February. “I have a lot of support from all parties, except the Conservatives,” Mr Corbyn said.
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