The RLA stated its case for a ‘manifesto for growth’ in the private rented sector at the Conservative Party Conference, with a fringe event of the same name.
The popular event featured: Rt. Hon. John Redwood, chairman of the Conservative Economic Affairs Committee; Alex Morton, head of housing, planning and urban policy at Policy Exchange; and RLA Chairman, Alan Ward. The event was chaired by Oliver Colvile, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Private Rented Sector.
Mr Redwood kicked off with the stated desire of ‘expanding the private rented sector (PRS)’ with a specific view to make the entire private rented industry more suitable for tenants and landlords alike.[youtube width=”600″ height=”400″ video_id=”fGy_HBWneo4″]
Mr Redwood touched upon tenancies and was also keen for Government to look at the current tenant/landlord framework to investigate the potential for greater clarity of rights and responsibilities for both parties. Importantly, he saw longer term tenancies as a matter to be arranged by the two parties; essentially Mr Redwood states that as little external regulation as possible would be preferable.
After a brief series of questions the floor was opened up to RLA Chairman Alan Ward who spoke out against the commonly held perceptions of landlords being money-rich, yet still hungry, vultures that prey on the weak.
Alan argued that better enforcement was needed for the PRS as the vast majority of landlords were good, law-abiding people who were chastised because of a few.
Alan also argued that the manner in which landlords were taxed was unfair. As it stands, when an individual builds a home to live in, they do not have to pay the 20 per cent VAT that landlords in the exact same situation are not exempt from.
In summary, Alan wants to see
- Markets decide the rent (as situation plays a strong role in rent prices; London as a key example)
- Review of the 100s of laws in the PRS, with a view of cumulative effects
- Self-regulation and national recognition for good landlords and a database for tenants to discover who stands up to a code of conduct
- Fair taxation
Alex Morton concluded the speeches and identified planning as being the most important part of the housing sector as it can affect every aspect of the sector. For example, Alex said that the ultimate goal should be to build homes to cope with demand, but planning systems are currently restrictive and overly bureaucratic that do not work on a complimentary basis.
Alex argued that the current planning framework is by appeal rather than what would actually work for both parties.
Alex was keen to place power in the hands of local powers because they are more likely to understand the strain and demands of their area.
Some key points from Alex’s speech were:
- Central Government not to ‘micromanage’ local councils and provide them with a planning framework that could cater to demand
- PRS does not need special treatment in terms of VAT because housing prices will ultimately go up
- Longer term tenancies should be decided on by landlord and tenant for mutually benefitting terms à there are groups that prefer short term contracts