The private rented sector continues to be at the centre of the housing debate that looks set to last up to polling day in 2015. Taken from the RLA member magazine, the Resident Property Investor (RPI), Ed Jacbos looks at the on-going policy topics from within the housing sector.
Having made announcements to increase the length of tenancies, end letting agent fees paid by tenants and introduce new rent controls it was confirmed during a meeting between the RLA and policy advisers to Ed Miliband and the Shadow Housing Minister that if elected, Labour would seek to enact its proposals within a Housing Bill in the first session of the new Parliament.
In light of this, the RLA convened a joint meeting with the NLA, BPF and ARLA to establish a coherent and joint strategy especially around the threat now posed to Section 21 notices as a result of Labour’s proposals.
The threats to the sector have also been magnified by the announcement of a series of backbench private members Bill to be considered by MPs in the House of Commons between now and the election.
Of particular note is that the Liberal Democrat MP, Sarah Teather has announced that she is to bring forward a Tenancies Reform Bill which would seek to end retaliatory evictions.
The working group convened by the RLA has agreed to prepare a joint briefing for MPs on the topic.
Richard Bacon, the Conservative MP for South Norfolk, is bringing forward a Self-build and Custom House Building Bill which seeks to encourage self-building. The RLA will be using this as an opportunity to promote its policy proposals on developing homes to rent on small plots of unused land and its efforts to end the anomaly that means VAT is not reclaimable when constructing a house to rent.
Good news has come in the form of the English Housing Survey which has shown that at 84% the proportion of tenants in the private rented sector satisfied with their accommodation has increased by one percentage point over the last year. This again remains a higher proportion than in the social rented sector. Supporting this is newly released data from the Office for National Statistics showing that private rental prices paid by tenants in Great Britain rose by just 1% in the 12 months to June 2014.
Responding to the figures, the newly installed Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis MP declared that the figures, “clearly show private rents falling in real terms.”
The Labour Party meanwhile has pledged to introduce a new Help to Build programme should it be successful in next year’s election. Under the proposal, small companies building between 1 and 500 homes a year would be able to obtain bigger loans for banks covering up to 80% of the cost of the development. The RLA is seeking clarification from the Labour Party on how this could apply to homes to rent.