A Swindon landlord has called for more to be done to help struggling renters who find it hard to find or afford a suitable home.

John Stooke, of Haydon End, proposed radical changes that he hopes would create a fairer society and stop people falling prey to malicious property owners.

His letter to the Adver is as follows.

Today, five million of our fellow citizens rely on the rental sector and whilst it's true that mortgage payers were hit hard by the ridiculous Truss Government, those dependent the rental sector are being royally screwed from all directions - and I speak as a landlord.

"There are three pressing issues which talk to fairness and equity, spiralling rents and availability, flat dwellers never really owning their own homes or at least the land they sit on, and a new breed of landlord, under-capitalised and unregulated.

Driving the supply-side shortfall is the fact that 2.1 million local authority homes have been sold to tenants since the myopic and abysmal Tory scheme was started by Margaret Thatcher. Even recently, 13,000 homes were lost to the public sector in 2021, which may have been okay if councils were allowed to replace these but they are forbidden so to do, with only 5089 so far being permitted. Once sold these houses often come back into the rental sector at 2 or even 3 times the previous rent!

Statistics show average monthly rents are now £102 more than they were 12 months ago and this is despite inflation sitting apparently at around 2.5 per cent.

Secondly, it cannot be right that if you invest your future into buying an apartment, that you don't actually buy the land it sits on and in 99 years some hedge fund (often from the Cayman Islands or BVI) can come along and tell you that you have to buy another lease, or give your home back to them

Thirdly today, anyone who can rustle up the price of a deposit, can become a buy-to-let landlord overnight with no training, experience or commitment to the families they may end up accommodating. It seems this new breed of landlord will cram in the maximum ‘box-like’ structures into buildings, whatever the space or amenity for those who must live there in the future.

I would argue that the present MPs, Justin Tomlinson and Robert Buckland have a problem here. They sat on their hands in Parliament, while their landlord colleagues ‘talked out’ and then binned even the pathetically weak and inadequate Rent Reform Bill, and their 22 landlord colleagues in the Lords didn't come out of this debacle with much credit either.

On the supply-side, there needs to be a major programme to build at least 90,000 different types of homes annually, suitable for social rent. These must be made available via councils or housing associations, supported by radical measures means such as compulsorily purchasing suitable land at existing use values.

What why should failed farmers do nothing, and hit the jackpot just because they happen to occupy the right space when development plans are drawn up?

Whilst the now defunct Renters Reform Bill did mention commonhold, all flat dwellers encumbered by expensive and unfair leases must be given immediate rights to purchase commonholds at prices which reflect land values rather than the pathetically short leases with their upward only rent reviews, so loved by the Bovis, Barrets, Redrows, Crest Nicholsons, Bloor Homes, and David Wilson's of this world. Never again must dwellings be sold off to often the naïve young, without them also owning the land their home occupies.

Thirdly, there should be a national compulsory register, open to the public, to ensure proper regulation, the adherence to minimum standards of both provision and repair and that landlord pay the proper income and capital gains tax on property they own. This could also be a future basis for future rent controls. Professional and timely repairs would be a statutory responsibility and it should be combined with decent protection for families in rentals. No more section 21s for those who speak out about rogue landlords.

This would include 12 months contracts and a ban on any evictions, as long as the rent is paid up and the property is kept in a good state. If landlords can just say “I'm selling” and put families on the street, (then not sell) you may as well leave section 21 in situ.

These are radical changes, essential to build a fairer society and there may need to be schemes to support a transition from where we are now, to these new protocols.

With rentals now almost wholly in the hands of agents, this was always going to mean prices spiralling upwards, especially where there are so many forced into dependence on the rental sector. If you don't think agents artificially force up prices just asked the football clubs!

Given the Tories were both in hock to the big builders and had so many with vested interests on their benches, this is was always going to be a problem for them, as the swift end to an even inadequate RRB so graphically demonstrated.

I have spoken to Will Stone and Heidi Alexander and they have a told me that radical measures on housing are very high on Labour's agenda.

I just hope that if and when they are elected they indeed don't forget the millions of decent people in this country who can't find an affordable home or are being abused by overseas investors who buy and sell these ground rents packages without a thought for those individuals and families in the firing line of their avarice and greed.