Rent increases would be capped at inflation under Labour plans to stop tenants being "ripped off", Ed Miliband has said.
As well as the three-year limits, tenants would have the right to know what rent their predecessors had paid. Under Mr Miliband's plans, landlords would also face missing out on tax relief if they failed to maintain their properties. The policies would help "generation rent" - the millions of younger people - priced out of the housing market in recent years and trapped in short-term, often insecure rental agreements.
Labour has already announced plans to extend the typical tenancy agreement from a year or less to three years following a probationary period of six months. Estate agents will also be banned from requiring fees from tenants before they move in. It’s planned to cap rents during the course of the standard three-year tenancies so they cannot rise by more than the CPI measure of inflation, which is currently 0%, while allowing flexibility for them to be reduced.
Market rates will still apply at the start of a contract, but tenants will have a legal right to know what the previous tenant paid, which Labour says will put them in a stronger position to negotiate and make substantial rent rises between contracts less likely. Three-year tenancy agreements should become the norm, with landlords having to give two months' notice before asking a tenant to leave and only if they have a "good reason" to do so. The rent cap would not apply to those who have agreed shorter contracts with their landlords, such as students or business people needing flexibility.
The UK rental market is far less regulated than its European counterparts, rent controls have been successful in Ireland, where they were introduced in 2004. Britain is almost the only country in the world to have insecure, one-year tenancies.