The RLA had a busy conference season. This time at the Conservative conference in Birmingham. A packed out fringe event chaired by Oliver Covile MP, Chair of the APPG for the PRS provided much food for thought. However, was the take home message: ‘Warm words for landlords but no concrete commitments’?
Conservative Conference Fringe – ‘Private Landlords – National Problems, Local Solutions
The RLA Fringe event was a highlight of this Conference. Oliver Colvile MP (Chairman of APPG on PRS) chaired this event with Alan Ward joined on the panel by Richard Blakeway (GLA Deputy Mayor for Housing, Land and Property) and Chris Walker (Head of Housing, Planning and Urban Policy of Tory think tank Policy Exchange).
- This fringe event was a real success for the RLA, we had to turn people away due to the room being so full – even standing room was taken up!
- A number of MPs sat as delegates in the room including former Housing Minister Sir George Young.
- Richard Blakeway was an advocate of the accreditation model as seen in London (Boris Badge) as opposed to too much regulation and compulsory licensing for landlords -which would be a deterrent for investment.
- Talk on the panel was clearly in favour of industry self-regulation, with the panel all in agreement that a system of ‘rating’ or ‘kitemark’ which we have promoted with the co-regulation model, could be a way of raising standards, as well as tenant education on how to check if your landlord is accredited, acting as an incentive for good landlords. Alan praised the work of the London standard but raised the valid point that we need something like this model to be available – with the resources – nationally.
- The idea of putting a box on the Council Tax form defining tenure and name and address of the landlord was also well received.
The RLA also:
- Met with Councillor Mike Jones – Vice Chair of the Local Government Association Environment, Economy, Housing and Transport Board and told him concerns over the exclusion of private rented properties from Flood Re insurance proposals. He said that he would be happy to raise this – as again this shows an unfair example of landlords being grouped with the ‘small business’ category while not receiving any of the taxation benefits that an enterprise or small business might.
- Cllr Mike Jones again said that the Council Tax form amendment on tenure looks like something that the LGA could support.
- The RLA also received economic backing from the think tank IEA who agreed with arguments that rent controls and fixed long term tenancies don’t work and will prevent growth of the PRS; backing many RLA arguments.
o They also said what we have long argued – that there is a lack of accurate data or continuous sample for the PRS.
o IEA also recognised that there is nothing to stop landlords from extending tenancies if they so wished – after all landlords can ill afford voids.
- In a Policy Exchange fringe meeting on housing demand and building 300,000 new homes a year, Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis acknowledged that the PRS had an important role in the provision of so many homes. He also said that we must look to the sector to continue to invest in existing stock.
- The RLA continued to emphasise the importance of Section 21 for Landlords and reiterated that there is already existing legislation that makes ‘revenge eviction’ illegal.
The RLA will continue to fight on these, and other issues, the Association has raised ahead of next year’s General Election to ensure that whoever forms the new Government in May 2015 understands the importance of the PRS and the need to support our growing sector.