Labour’s plans to introduce a right to buy scheme for private sector landlords would obliterate the PRS sector, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has warned.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell mooted the idea of the scheme, which could force landlords to sell homes to tenants at reasonable prices, in an interview with the Financial Times.

The scheme, which could be brought in if Labour wins the next general election, is aimed at tackling what McDonnell described as the “burgeoning buy-to-let market and ineffective landlords”.

McDonnell told the FT: “We’ve got a large number of landlords who are not maintaining these properties and are causing overcrowding and [other] problems.”

Responding to the comments, RLA policy director David Smith said: “Labour’s proposal would effectively kill off a large part of the private rented sector denying a home to many thousands of people. If there was to be any chance of this becoming law, there would be a mass sell-off of properties in advance.

“The RLA is all in favour of landlords selling to sitting tenants but it must be entirely voluntary. Anything else amounts to a form of compulsory purchase.”

The National Landlords Association also slammed the proposal, describing it as “ludicrous” and arguing that the many shouldn’t be punished for the “sins of the few”.

The NLA director of policy and practice Chris Norris said: “John McDonnell’s assertions that landlords are looking for a quick buck and don’t maintain their properties shows a serious lack of knowledge about how the vast majority of landlords run their businesses. These good landlords should not be punished for the sins of the few who fail in their obligations to provide tenants with a decent home.”