A LEADING property landlord has vowed to fight Labour plans to reform the private rented housing sector, claiming the changes would encourage rogue operators, push up rents and reduce the availability of quality rented housing.

Belvoir, which has 150 branches, including Skipton, and manages more than 30,000 properties, has launched campaign against proposals that a future Labour government would change the rules – warning they would encourage rogue landlords and agents to introduce higher rents ‘by the back door’.

Dorian Gonsalves, commercial director, said: “The truth is that each and every day professional, responsible and reputable agents, who charge a reasonable and proportionate fee for the services they provide, actually save tenants money.

“Those agents who don’t follow the rules – and there are still a lot of them out there – may appear to be cheaper by offering a ‘cut price’ service, but in many cases this service could be inadequate and fail in meeting certain legal requirements.

“Self-regulating agencies, such as Belvoir, provide high levels of service, expertise and objectivity when managing landlord/client relationships and we ensure that tenants’ interests are always safeguarded and protected – particularly when dealing with issues such as maintenance or breakage costs and end of tenancy agreements.”

Labour is also proposing the introduction of capped rental increases even though most landlords had not increased rents since 2008.

Mr Gonsalves said, as interest rates increased, a cap on rents could see many landlords could being forced to sell their property portfolios.

Peter Johnson, owner of Belvoir’s Skipton office, said: “We have taken a lead in contacting MPs throughout each region to make them fully aware of the benefits and high levels of protection that professional, self-regulating agents provide to tenant clients.

“We intend to fight Labour’s proposals in order to protect tenants from falling prey to many of the rogue landlords and agents which, sadly, still exist.

“We believe that these proposed policies are unworkable, not properly thought through and ultimately will only harm the interests of housing tenants.”

Dorian Gonsalves said Belvoir and other reputable agents wanted to the Government to regulate the sector – but want an opportunity to help shape new rules.