Date Published 15 October 2013
Shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds made her first speaking engagement in her new role just three days after being given the brief.
She used her debut to focus on letting agents` fees charged to tenants, and said that a Labour administration would review these.
Reynolds appeared at a conference into the private rented sector organised by law firm Winckworth Sherwood.
Originally, her predecessor Jack Dromey should have spoken. Mark Prisk, housing minister until last week, had also been due to appear: his successor, Kris Hopkins, did not take his place, leaving other speakers to fill what should have been the keynote address.
Reynolds said that stability, affordability and the quality of homes was the key to growing the private rented sector.
She also said that a Labour government would focus on rising rents and the need for longer tenancies, as well as letting agents` fees.
Also speaking at the conference was Karen Cooksley, partner at Winckworth Sherwood.
She said: `There needs to be a cultural shift in the UK, as in the past all political parties have focused on owner occupation.
`A message for the future will need to focus on the fact that people haven`t failed if they choose to rent, or if they cannot afford to rent. There are many more people in the rental sector than ten years ago, so this cannot be ignored.`
Other speakers included Ravinda Walia from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Walia, head of the government`s Build to Rent fund, said it would make possible the building of more new homes, with the ambition to increase the size of the private rented sector to around 32% of the housing stock across the UK.
He told delegates that there would be further announcements on Build to Rent before the end of the year.