Ed Miliband to outline proposals aimed at preventing damaging social divisions between homeowners and those who rent

Ed Miliband has set out plans to protect tenants who rent from private landlords in a speech fleshing out his vision for a one nation Labour party.

The Labour leader warned that action is needed to prevent damaging social divisions between homeowners and those who rent.

In a speech to the Fabian Society on Saturday, Miliband proposed a national register of landlords and more powers for councils to tackle or strike off rogue ones. He also wants the confusing system of fees charged by landlords to be made clearer to prevent tenants being ripped off.

Milliband noted that 3.6m households, including 1m with children, are now in privately rented accommodation, more than in the social rented sector for the first time in almost 50 years.

"We cannot have two nations divided between those who own their own homes and those who rent," Miliband said.

"Most people who rent have responsible landlords and rental agencies. But there are too many rogue landlords and agencies either providing accommodation which is unfit or ripping off their tenants.

"And too many families face the doubt of a two-month notice period before being evicted. Imagine being a parent with kids settled in a local school and your family settled in your home for two, three, four years, facing that sort of uncertainty.

"We would introduce a national register of landlords and greater powers for local authorities to root out and strike off the rogues. We would end the confusing, inconsistent and opaque fees and charges regime, making fees easily understandable, upfront and comparable. And we will seek to remove the barriers that stand in the way of longer term tenancies."

The pledge to safeguard private tenants is part of Miliband's push to set himself apart from old and New Labour. He told the society that both strands in his party's postwar history have lost relevance in 21st-century Britain.

He said his new one nation Labour will reach out to voters alienated by the party in the 1980s while standing up to the vested interests courted by the party during its time in government over the past decade.

The Labour leader sees this speech as a chance to show that his address to the Labour conference last year, in which he first spoke of creating a one nation party, was not just a simple political slogan.

He regards it as a coherent political project which will achieve two broad goals: give an honest account of the party's past and set out a governing framework for the economy, society and politics.

Miliband admitted that New Labour was "too timid in enforcing rights and responsibilities, especially at the top, and it was too sanguine about the consequences of the rampant free markets".

"By the time we left office, too many people of Britain didn't feel as if the Labour party was open to their influence, or listening to them," he said.

Miliband told the event in central London that if Labour wins the next general election it will have to find ways of achieving change while tackling a lingering deficit.

"One nation Labour has learnt the lessons of the financial crisis. It begins from the truth that New Labour did not do enough to bring about structural change in our economy to make it work for the many, not just the few. It did not do enough to change the rules of the game that were holding our economy back," he said.

He believes a Labour government would provide greater opportunities than the Tories and New Labour, which "skewed the system to the powerful few", in the words of one source.

Miliband believes his society theme highlights his determination to focus on greater responsibility from top to bottom, with bankers expected to show restraint in remuneration and responsibility in lending, and welfare recipients expected to seek work.

The Labour leader also said that his new approach stands in stark contrast to what is described as the government's "old trickle-down divisive ideology" in which taxes are cut for the rich while benefits for the poor rise by less than the rate of inflation.

David Batty
Nicholas Watt

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source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/12/labour-plans-crackdown-rogue-landlords


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