For all those Ransom Note readers living in London (excluding all 5 of you who own your own gaff), Labour's Ed Milliband may have finally come up with a policy that has some appeal. Couched in his whole 'cost of living crisis' schtick, Not-That-Red Ed has announced that an elected Labour government would cap rent increases, make it harder for landlord's to evict tenants, and encourage longer leases. Whilst rents around the country are undoubtedly rising at a relentless pace, this policy looks likely to have a particular resonance with anyone living in the capital - the last 4 years have seen housing costs sky rocket at an insane pace, rendering large swathes of London uninhabitable to anyone bar the 'creative' children of the super rich, and poor, dumb bastards coughing up two thirds of their income on four walls and a roof. The Guardian reports that Milliband proposed the following:
" New three-year tenancy agreements that would start with a six-month probationary period allowing landlords to evict a tenant if they are in breach of their contract. This would then be followed by a two-and-a half-year term in which tenants would be able, as they are now, to terminate contracts after the first six months with one month's notice.
Landlords would only be able to terminate contracts with two months notice if a tenant fell into arrears or was guilty of anti-social behavior; or if the landlord wanted to sell the property or needed it for their family. This is designed to prevent landlords from terminating tenancy agreements to put up rent.
A new formula to prevent excessive rental increases. Labour will be guided by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, which is examining options for a new benchmark. This could be linked to average rent rises, inflation or a combination of the two.
Ban letting agents from charging tenants fees just to sign a tenancy agreement. They will instead have to ask landlords for fees."
All good, sensible proposals as far as we can see. Switching into personal anecdote mode, last week I came back from DJing at around 3am. I was surprised to find my neighbour, a Nigerian woman about the same age as my mum, sleeping in our communal entrance corridor. When I asked her what was up, it transpired that our landlord had turfed her out, specifically so he could ratchet up the rent. She was rendered homeless for a week - I caught up with her yesterday and it turned out she managed to get a place in sheltered accommodation so things were (kind of) looking up. She had lived in our building for 10 years, and, as far as I can see, had been driven out by greed, pure and simple. The rent she had been paying was more than enough for the landlord to have been making a tidy profit (he owns a whole string of places, and is quite clearly rolling in filthy lucre) but dude just wanted MORE MONEY. Gotta love those landlords!