Benefits of contacting Members of Parliament
MPs will be much more likely to read and take note of anything you send them as a local person than any national information sent to them by the RLA. Whilst the RLA is effective at getting the landlords’ message across at national and ministerial level, our messages are far more likely to get through to local MPs if they are delivered by local residents and relate to local issues.
If you are able to establish a link and relationship with your MP they will be more likely to be receptive towards you later on.
MPs are often vocal in the media and on their own websites/blogs about local issues. It is preferable that they are well informed about the private rented sector to prevent them from making incorrect and possibly negative comments, and encourage them to make positive comments. It is good to get to them before the press or others do about any private rented sector issues.
Contacting your MP
You should seek to communicate with the constituency MP where you live, where your business is based and/or where you have a property or several properties.
When emailing or writing to local MPs, ensure that whatever you are concerned about provides a local ‘twist’ to make it relevant to the constituency.
For example, Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) continue to be of concern to many MPs, particularly in those areas with a high volume of such accommodation, especially in student areas. Members might therefore seek to organise joint delegations of local landlords and tenants to meet with MPs. This would provide the MP with a photo opportunity.
A vital consideration is to remain politically neutral and therefore consistent in all dealings with MPs. Contact with Conservative and Liberal Democrats targets should not attack the Government, but seek to suggest constructive solutions to the challenges facing the PRS, together with pertinent local statistics likely to be of interest to MPs in getting to know their constituency better. Similarly, communications with Labour MPs should highlight the practical failings of existing, or proposed, legislation and circumstances, and offer guidance on how they could be improved.
You should also take account of MP’s knowledge. Many, for example, were sitting councillors and therefore may be very well versed in local issues pertinent to the private rented sector. Others may not even have come from the area originally, and will benefit from a briefing with local landlords.
Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs)
It may also prove useful to involve PPCs in your lobbying. PPCs are individuals who are have been selected by their respective political parties in opposition to the incumbent MP, to contest constituency seats at the next General Election. As is the nature of politics, a significant number of PPCs will defeat incumbant MPs at the subsequent General Election.
In some instances, where the incumbent MP has decided not to seek re-election, his party will select their own PPC to contest the General Election on their behalf. In this instance, such PPCs will be in situ for some time prior to the election, and it will be important for you to build a relationship with them as well.
Therefore, it is important to build a relationship with PPCs prior to the General Election. Many PPCs will be eager to build local relationships and resolve issues for local people. However, they possess no legislative power and any success they have will simply be from the political influence they are able to exert. The more marginal a constituency, the more political influence a PPC will have.
PPCs are usually selected months in advance of an expected General Election date, and their selection will be reported on the national websites of their respective parties. They are also sometimes referred to as the Parliamentary Spokesperson for their party in the constituency they are contesting.