The RLA had a busy conference season. First up: Labour in Manchester. RLA Chairman Alan Ward, along with Policy team members were at meetings and events throughout. Below is a brief overview of some of the more memorable moments, and more interesting talking points!
Labour Party Conference, Manchester
RLA defends Section 21 and proposes new ideas for regulation in face of hostile policies.
Labour Conference Fringe – Manchester ‘Kicking the Crooks Out of Private Renting’
The RLA fringe event at the Labour national conference had standing room only. The event was centred on ‘kicking the crooks out of private renting’.
With a representative from think-tank Demos and Labour MPs Clive Betts (Commons Communities and Local Government Committee Chairman) and former housing minister Nick Raynsord MP on the panel, RLA Chairman Alan Ward challenged calls for the banning of so called ‘revenge evictions’. Alan also questioned the effectiveness of a national landlord register and rent controls as ways of improving the private rented sector (PRS). He promoted RLA alternatives, including self-regulation and warned that Labour’s proposals would undermine the private rented sector and deter investment.
On a positive note, there was support for including a box on council tax forms asking householders to identify their housing tenure, and therefore privately rented properties, allowing councils to seek out and challenge unscrupulous landlords or criminals posing as landlords. The panel also supported suggestions that councils be allowed to retain fines from landlord prosecutions, to encourage better enforcement of current regulations.
Other opportunities from the conference:
Building homes for Britain – how important private renting is!
- In a discussion with the former Housing Minister, John Healey MP, Alan pointed him to DCLG figures showing that of the 5,230,000 new dwelling created between 1986 and 2012, 3,009,000 or 57.5% of these have been in the private rented sector.
Council tax forms – identify rented properties!
- Simple ideas such as the RLA’s suggestion to identify privately rented properties and landlords through council tax forms allowing councils to seek out and challenge unscrupulous landlords or criminals posing as landlords gained support.
- Sir Robin Wales, the Mayor of Newham, said that provided there are no legal problems with doing so, Newham would be prepared to proceed with this idea.
- The RLA feels that this offers a better alternative to an expensive national register and hope that other Local Authorities would find this a suitable alternative to licensing, too.
Council tax forms & Consumer protection
- The RLA met with Karen Buck MP and Ed Cox, Director of IPPR North who both asked for further information on the Council Tax form proposal as well as further details on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) guidance on the relationship between landlords and tenants.
- This guidance makes clear that under the terms of the 2008 Consumer Protection Act from Unfair Trading Regulations, “aggressive practices” constitute a breach of the Act. Examples of what may constitute aggressive practices include “Threatening the tenant with eviction to dissuade them from exercising rights they have under the tenancy agreement or in law, for example where they wish to make a complaint to a local authority about the condition of the property, or seek damages for disrepair.” Rather than introducing new legislation to deal with ‘revenge evictions’, existing provisions could be used to prosecute landlords and make abolishing Section 21 a pointless exercise.
- You can read more about the guidance by clicking here
- Labour proposals would be death knell for private rented sector
- Consumer Protection legislation guidance