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Establish a council run letting agency / build council houses

This petition had 92 supporters

In the last 15 years the numbers of people renting has doubled in the UK, with projections of a this increasing by a million in the next five years, sending rents up a by a further 25% on top of the current barely affordable levels.

In the past, tenants renting could have got into a council property, however the waiting list in Leeds is now over 20,000, meaning generally only those with the highest housing needs are able to get properties. Many young people such as myself have never applied to the waiting list because of the feeling of impossibility of getting an affordable property through it.

The recent introduction of the bedroom tax has not and will not do anything to tackle this as all it has done is merely shuffle people around, whilst causing great distress to single parents, those with disabilities and others who the bedroom tax simply punishes for being poor.

Whilst the council is crowing about building new social housing, its plans only add up to 1,000 houses, a tiny proportion of those wanting council houses. It's full house building plans suggest building many more houses, but these will be houses to buy - hardly a solution when the steep increase in house prices combined with the increase in casualised working conditions means that many people simply cannot afford to get a mortgage.

In the private sector, rent caps used to control prices there too, however these measures were dismantled under the Thatcher government of the 1980s and further legislation continued to weaken tenancy right. Clearly, rent control should be brought back in at a national level, however, in the meantime we believe local councils can take measures to help alleviate the problem.

A recent referendum at York university has seen the Students' Union there initiate a consultation of running a not-for-profit letting agency that would scrap admin fees, inspect homes to be up to a minimum standard and place a cap on the rents of housing they are prepared to let. We believe that if a students union can consider this a feasible measure, why can't a city council?

This would provide an immediate measure which would improve conditions for tenants which could sit alongside the longer term plan of building new council housing on a large scale.

We the undersigned call upon Leeds City Council to:

- Embark on a mass council house building programme as a long term solution to the housing crisis. Current proposals for house building in Leeds are heavily weighted towards various forms of private ownership

-Take immediate steps to set up a council-run letting agency which could scrap fees for tenants associated with renting as well set standards in terms of affordability and quality of accommodation for the properties it lets.


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