With the general election just over a week away, each of the main political parties has outlined its plans for the country, including for the housing market.
From introducing a ‘lifetime’ deposit that moves with a tenant, to scrapping Section 21 notices, there is a wide range of policies being proposed that will affect landlords, and yet there is some common ground between the main political parties when it comes to housing.
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent, commented: “Fortunately, the main political parties agree on some elements of housing policy - it’s just the method of delivery where they can’t seem to see eye to eye.”
Given that the number of people living in private rented accommodation has grown, doubling in the past three decades, renters are now a political force that the main parties can no longer ignore, so it is no surprise that they are starting to take the renting crisis seriously at this election, with politicians in agreement that the rental system needs improving.
Leaf added: “They [the main political parties] recognise the importance of attracting the ‘tenant vote,’ bearing in mind the huge recent increase in numbers renting so want to ban Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and encourage greater security of tenure.”
But Leaf, a former RICS residential chairman, is concerned that some of the policies being proposed could potentially lead to growth in UK house prices and rents amid a shortage of properties.
He continued: ‘As far as I am concerned, policies should not compromise the supply of homes for sale or to rent or increase upward pressure on rents and prices.
“For instance, if Section 21 is removed will the alternative Section 8 eviction process be improved to ensure the most difficult tenants can still be removed without too many landlords leaving the sector? Or, how will the proposed discounts for ‘local’ home buyers be monitored and paid for to ensure developers don’t reduce their building programmes or will local authorities and housing associations be able or willing to fill the breach?
“How do the Conservatives envisage ‘transferable lifetime five per cent rental deposits’ to work in practice and impact on the market? And how will compulsory purchase of low cost local authority/statutory undertaker-owned housing land be funded, as proposed by Labour?
“On the other hand, the Liberal Democrats are advocating minimum three-year rental tenancies and rents linked to inflation. But we find most tenancies continue for longer than three years and rents are either softening or increasing by less than CPI.
“Trying to appeal to as much of the electorate as possible is understandable for political parties at the moment while we in the industry reflect on how some, if not all, of these and other policies are likely to be implemented.