Labour has launched its general election manifesto, promising to “transform” the UK with what some commentators view as the most ambitious - and most costly - pledges ever made.
The manifesto sets out plans for the private rented sector, which includes the introduction of open-ended tenancies, the scrapping of Section 21 and new rent controls, designed to restrict rent increases to inflation.
The party has also proposed the introduction of nationwide licensing as well as new minimum standards for the PRS.
Although not all the proposals will be welcomed by landlords, Labour’s pledge to support landlords who let to tenants in receipt of benefits by ending the freeze on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and realigning LHA to the 30th percentile of local rents is likely to prove popular.
Landlords will also be pleased to see Labour promise to pay the housing element of Universal Credit directly to landlords, as well as end Right to Rent checks.
Looking at Labour’s wider housing policy, the party will aim to build 150,000 council and social homes annually, end the Right to Buy of council homes, launch a £1bn Fire Safety Fund to fit sprinklers in all high-rise council and housing association tower blocks.
Labour will also introduce mandatory building standards and guidance, overseen by Fire and Rescue Service fire safety officers, end homelessness within five years, support restrictions on short-lets, tax properties used as holiday homes, and do more to support leaseholders.
David Alexander, managing director of Apropos by DJ Alexander Ltd, commented: “Everyone involved in the housing sector will welcome the Labour party’s plans to build more social housing. There is a growing need for social housing due to the rising population, the increase in the number of smaller households, and the ageing population so more homes are urgently required.”
“However, hostility to the private rented sector (PRS) is implicit in the Labour party leader’s policies.”
Alexander added: “The Labour manifesto seeks to vilify the private rented sector and blame landlords for all of the woes of the housing sector. The truth is that the PRS has stepped in and resolved a property shortage caused by successive governments lack of investment in social housing. Punishing this sector is not the way forward.
“The manifesto mentions rent controls, which generally don’t work and result in newer tenants paying more than their predecessors as initial rents are set higher to cover the fixed rents of the earlier tenants. Policies that aim to punish the PRS could result in large numbers exiting the market and if that happens, then Labour will have to build a lot more than one million homes in ten years.”