In an unexpected turn of events at a Conservative party conference fringe meeting, the chief executive of Shelter heaped praise on at least some private landlords.
Polly Neate used her introductory comments to tell delegates to the meeting - which looked at likely future legislation for the private rented sector - that she knew from first hand experience amongst her family that some landlords “bent over backwards” to help tenants during the pandemic.
In recent years Neate has used Shelter as a campaigning vehicle to stridently criticise the private landlord and letting agency sectors.
Later in the same Tory Party event she accepted that there were some very good landlords and some very bad tenants - again striking a more conciliatory tone than her organisation usually does.
Neate was speaking alongside housing and homelessness minister Eddie Hughes, and said on more than one occasion that she recognised the valuable role private landlords took in terms of providing homes.
However, she said that in principle she believed that much more of the power balance within the sector was with landlords than tenants, and she told Hughes that she hoped this would be rectified in the imminent government White Paper on private rental reforms.
Neate told the meeting that while many renters had the prospect of moving on to become home owners, many others did not.
She claimed there were substantial numbers of people in their 30s in HMOs, or people living in poor conditions, and increasingly older renters who have little or no prospect of becoming owner occupiers.
“Traditionally renters were those on the cusp of home ownership, but now too many on the cusp of homelessness and we need to protect them” Neate told attendees at the event.
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