Labour appoints vocal new shadow housing minister

Labour has appointed a new shadow housing minister with a strong opposition to estate agents, although it may actually be lettings firms that he is not keen on.

Alex Cunningham, who has been MP for Stockton North since 2010, has joined Labour’s housing team.

He will work alongside fellow shadow housing minister Sarah Jones and housing team parliamentary private secretary James Frith.

John Healey remains in the more senior role, as shadow housing secretary.

Cunningham has a history of criticising the sector, albeit by conflating estate and lettings agency work.

Following the Queen’s Speech in May 2013 he criticised the Government for failing to bring “greater regulation to bear on estate agents who routinely rip off those in the private rented sector”.

He has also been vocal on fees and deposits.

In July 2017, during Prime Minister’s Questions, he said: “My young constituent paid a £300 house-reservation fee to Pattinson estate agents, but the agents will not refund it after their landlord client withdrew from the contract because my constituent refused to pay 12 months’ rent in advance.

“She faces having to pay another agent non-refundable fees of £650 to secure a different property. When will the Prime Minister act to put an end to these rip-off fees and stop these agents capitalising on young people and others?”

During votes on the Housing and Planning Bill in 2016, he voted to retain secure tenancies for life but against requiring those on high incomes living in social housing to pay market rents.

Cunningham also opposed funding Right to Buy style discounts for housing association tenants and voted against requiring local councils to sell expensive properties to use the revenue to fund new housing.

More recently, he submitted a question to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government asking what steps are being taken to enable more local authorities to establish selective licensing schemes.

It comes as Labour has proposed setting a house price inflation target for the Bank of England.

Healey suggested the Bank’s Financial Policy Committee could use its powers to limit price growth such as by restricting mortgage availability.

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  1. Will2

    Sounds like he might do well in China.

  2. JamesB

    His job description;

    ‘Win generation rent votes no matter what the cost, don’t worry about crashing the market as long as we get in power’



    1. DASH94

      I thought that was basis of their manifesto

  3. YorkshireEstateAgent

    Frankly I find the whole article strange. The specific “anti estate agents” label is headline journalism at best, and not backed up by relevant facts. The ponts the shadow minister raised are reasonable and what should be expected in a fairer socuety. We all know agents who take fees from multiple potential tenants with no refunds for the unsuccessful applicants. Professional agents have for a long time called for better regulation of our indystry, what’s the problem? This is just another example of poor journalism aimed at supporting the conservative administration by attacking the shadow without cause whilst the current government escapes any criticism.

    1. El Burro

      The article is about a shadow minister’s criticism of estate agents, on that basis it’s a fair report.  Any Tory MP that became Housing Minister and made the same comments would have got the same treatment.
      If you want to get into a debate over the article, you’re right that professional agents have for a long time called for better regulation of our industry . . . and successive governments of both persuasions have done nothing. This current government are pushing forward with that, a particular cause of Sajid Javid when he was in the post.
      As for his comments about fees and agents ripping off the private sector, can someone remind me under which political colour tenant fees been banned?

      1. El Burro

        See someone has disliked my post. Fair enough, we’re a broad church here on PIE and being an agent for far more years than I like to admit, I have a thick skin so I don’t mind/care.
        However, as I’ve seen articles on MPs of all political colours criticised on here over time and the rest of my comments are fact, I’m not sure why someone’s taken umbrage at it.

  4. DarrelKwong43

    The guy will be unemployed, if Labour get in, there will not be a housing market to worry about

  5. CountryLass

    That example that he gives of having to pay a £300 fee is only really relevant if the Landlord changed their mind and asked for 12 months rent afterwards, if the Tenant had a pass from referencing.

    If the Tenant failed referencing then it’s not the Landlord or Agents fault and why should they have to foot the bill?

  6. GeorgeHammond78

    Corbo and the Corbynistas, the greatest 1970’s Tribute Act ever, appearing soon in a country near you!

    1. pat123-

      Pipe down Tory boy!!

  7. Woodentop

    Trouble with this story is he may have a case over high and unfair fees. However to generalise that we all do it is so misleading that his ability to act responsible is thrown into question. His other rhetoric really shows the animal he is … part of the looney left that has  personal vendetta and the country, not just the industry should be very worried when they elect such people into a position of power. As Will2 commented .. Sounds like he might do well in China.

  8. IWONDER36

    Yawn! Another puppet pulled out the box.

    1. Will2

      More like muppet if they wish their to be a PRS


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