White Paper won’t tackle rental shortage

letting agent fees
Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

Plans to boost the supply of homes to rent announced today will fall flat on their face without support for individual landlords.

Whilst welcoming the change in emphasis toward renting and away from a narrow focus on home ownership in the Housing White Paper, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) says that, as research has proved, institutional investment will never achieve the level of supply needed to meet the growing demand for rented homes.

The vast majority of supply comes from small landlords and there is nothing in the White Paper to support their continued investment in new housing. Instead, the result of recent government policy has been to attack smaller landlords and discourage expansion.

The RLA has further highlighted that institutions invest in large population centres to get the mass they need; this will leave smaller towns and rural areas continuing to face a shortage of rented housing and associated higher rents.

Whilst welcoming the Government’s plans to encourage corporate landlords to offer longer tenancies, the RLA has pointed out that 25% of smaller landlords are prevented from offering tenancies longer than a year by their mortgage lender or insurer.

RLA Policy Director, David Smith, said: “Unfortunately, the White Paper falls a long way short of the radical changes for renters that we were promised. There may be more build to rent resulting from this in our large towns and cities, but without any plans to support the hundreds of thousands of smaller landlords who make up the bulk of the supply, there will continue to be a major shortage.

“Landlords are happy to offer longer tenancies provided the climate is right to do so. They give landlords certainty and they are good for tenants as rents tend to increase less often. We will be talking to the Government about what needs to be done to address the barriers preventing landlords from offering longer tenancies without the need for a one size fits all model.”

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Communications Manager for the RLA and award-winning Editor of RPI magazine. With 16 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and editorial content for our media partners.

She issues press releases promoting the work of the RLA and its policies and campaigns to the regional and national media and works alongside the marketing team on the association’s social media channels to build support for the RLA and its work.


  • Sadly the government won’t backtrack on their assault on the PRS as this would be seen as a weakness, even though we all know that they are wrong.
    The only way to make our views known is to pull together all 2 million plus landlords and remind the government that we are also Voters.

  • We should all be thnakful to Bill Irvine and the RLA for theie hard work and relentless work to keep DWP in line, and to keep us landlords informed.

  • The trouble is, the Government policy-makers are using the PRS as the whipping-boy for the housing woes that have beleaguered this country ever since the post-war baby boom. I may not be a property magnate, but I am a professional landlord, old-school – not a buy-to-let mortgagee, but someone whose business is providing housing to young people who need mobility to find work. Now I have reached a certain age, I would love to sell up and reinvest my capital where it could provide me with a sufficient income upon which to retire. Sadly, there is no alternative investment medium that can produce a similar yield, and I doubt there will be during my lifetime. I suspect that many buy-to-let investors are self-employed folk, trying to build up a pension pot – something civil servants will never have to do, with their gold-plated workplace pensions. It’s low interest rates that are preventing people from saving up, whether for a deposit on their first home, or to secure a decent pension. Right now, property is the only game in town, and that is why so many rank amateurs have jumped on the buy-to-let bandwagon. Then there is the other issue: the lack of security afforded by the AST system. The AST, despite its shortcomings, generally works pretty well, providing both parties abide by the terms. Time was, all my properties were occupied by tenants who were ‘holding over’; tenants I would not dream of evicting, because they had proved their trustworthiness. Rent increases were rare and fair – it just isn’t in my interest to alienate a good tenant. Even today, I have a tenant who has been in residence for over 12 years, and not once have I increased his rent. He is happy, and so am I. However, over the past 5 years – ever since the Government and the media decided the PRS is to blame for everything from the housing shortage to the extinction of the dinosaurs – I have had a succession of terrible tenants, people who are firmly of the belief that their rent entitles them to do anything they want in the property, regardless of legality. Thank heavens I could fall back on a Section 21 Notice when faced with a cannabis farm, or a con-merchant who sublet a one-bedroom flat to two entire families of illegal immigrants. If the Government starts insisting on longer leases, then they should also incorporate more responsibilities on the part of the tenants. I’d have no objection to a 5 or even 10 year lease, providing it incorporated a 12-month lead-in ASTA to give both the tenant and the landlord a chance to prove their trustworthiness prior to committing to the full longer-term tenancy agreement, which in turn should incorporate a formal rent review pattern, and transfer Internal Repairing and Insurance responsibilities to the tenant, as is common practice in commercial leases. But hey, what do I know – I’ve only been in the property business for 40-odd years. If this vendetta against small investors continues, we might all be better off getting out of the rented housing market and switching to holiday lets.

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