PLANS to help householders who rent their homes have been welcomed in Weymouth and Portland.

Labour has outlined plans to cap rent increases in the private sector and scrap letting agents’ fees if it came to power.

The party’s parliamentary candidate for South Dorset Simon Bowkett said he is backing the plans which he said would give a fairer deal for those renting their homes privately.

He said one of the biggest causes of the cost of living crisis is the price of renting or buying a home, and Labour has already pledged that it will make sure that Britain builds 200,000 more homes a year by the end of the next Parliament so that more families can fulfil their dream of home ownership.

Figures obtained from the 2011 census showed that the number of households buying their home in Weymouth and Portland has fallen by over 21 per cent since 2001, while the number renting privately has risen by 53 per cent. One in five homes in the borough is now privately rented.

Mr Bowkett said: “I have been talking to families and individuals renting locally, and people are struggling.

“They are telling us that they are worried about the prospect that their rent could jump up by a big amount from one year to the next, or that they will be asked to leave their home at short notice. Local people want to be able to settle down, to put down roots and have peace of mind."

He added: “If you buy your home, most estate agents will not charge you fees, but people in our town who rent are given no protection and they get charged £350 in fees on average. That’s a lot of money for a lot of people and that’s why Labour will legislate to ban these rip-off charges by letting agents.”

The local Labour group said it is exploring the idea of a ‘council-led not-for-profit letting agency’ that will give local residents an option without high fees.