Round-up of this week in Westminster

John Stewart
Written by John Stewart

At the very end of last week, the government snuck out yet another consultation, this time on licensing and taxation.

‘Tackling the Hidden Economy: Public Sector Licensing’ proposes to link tax compliance with public licences, including HMO and selective licences.  So landlords applying for a licence would have to be registered for tax.  While the RLA expects all landlords to pay the tax they are due, it is hard to see what these proposals will do to improve private renting.  And any criminal operator not registered for tax, is unlikely to bother applying for a licence anyway, leaving the good landlords with yet another hoop to jump through. 

 While most of the media concentrated on the government’s first Brexit vote loss on Wednesday, Jeremy Corbyn was sticking the boot onto the private rented sector at Prime Minister’s Questions.  After attacking the government’s record on homelessness and housing he called for longer tenancies, claiming there was no security in the private rented sector.  The Prime Minister’s parry, rubbishing Labour’s plans for rent controls gave a rare crumb of comfort to private landlords.  The RLA followed up Mr Corbyn’s attack on the PRS by defending the sector, pointing out that the average length of tenancies was growing and now stood at four years.

The Office for National Statistics, meanwhile, published its latest data on rents, November figures showing the rate of increase falling slightly, and sitting well behind the both the CPI and RPI measures of inflation.  The Valuation Office Agency also published rental stats, showing the median average rent in England was £675 a month.  The highest average rents were, unsurprisingly, in London and more than double the English average, while rents were lowest in the North East. 

DCLG has also published an updated guidance note on Energy Performance Statistics (RPCs) outlining which buildings require an EPC, who can produce and assessment and what factors influence the EPC rating.  It also outlines how to complain about an assessment, and the enforcement regime:

Labour MP, Karen Buck, a well-known housing campaigner, used a Ten Minute Rule Bill to call for the registration of short-term holiday lets.

RLA research, quoted by Ms Buck, shows considerable growth in short-term lets, as an unintended consequence of the government’s restrictions on mortgage interest relief for landlords.  As well as reducing the supply of homes to let, short-term lets are increasingly the focus of anti-social behaviour.  While the Bill has no chance of becoming law, it shows increasing concern about short-term lets from policymakers.

About the author

John Stewart

John Stewart

John is the Deputy Director of Policy and Research for the NRLA. He has over 20 years experience working in politics, as a successful election agent, MP’s assistant, local councillor and council leader, and is a former charity chief executive.

He oversees RLA policy work across all levels of government – central, devolved and local – working to ensure that landlords’ views are represented and officials, MPs, Assembly Members and local councillors have key information and evidence about the PRS before they take decisions.

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