The 2017 General Election will soon be upon us and in mid-May the Labour party launched its manifesto outlining their upcoming plans for housing and the rental market in the UK if they manage a win.
Following on from previously declaring that tackling the housing crisis is his number one priority policy, Corbyn’s manifesto begins its section on Housing stating that “Home is at the heart of all of our lives”. It goes on to assert that too many young people are crying out that the housing pressures they face are getting worse not better, and that Britain has a housing crisis – “a crisis of supply and a crisis of affordability”.
It then goes on to pledge to:
- Build over a million new homes
- Build at least 100,000 council and housing association homes a year for affordable rent or sale
- Establish a new Department of Housing, presumably with its own dedicated minister
- End insecurity for private renters by introducing controls on rent rises and
- Include legal minimum standards in properties for rent.
The labour party claims that soaring rents are a real problem and there’s an increase in families living in temporary accommodation, more people sleeping rough, and many not having enough money to save up for a deposit. It states it will back first time buyers to buy that special first home and will guarantee help to buy funding until 2027.
It is clear that Labour resolutely plans to continue what the conservatives began and legislate the ban on letting agency fees for tenants, they will make three year tenancies the norm and empower tenants to call time on ‘bad landlords’ by giving renters new consumer rights. It states “Renters are spending £9.6 billion a year on homes that the government classes as 'non-decent”.
Whilst the labour manifesto is blaming the housing crisis on the tory government, the Conservatives have hit back in a complete U-turn from previous policies promising a “new generation” of social housing to bring relief to the millions of ordinary families currently in the private rented sector. Their manifesto declares "Homes for all" and explains they are apparently planning to enter into new “Council Housing Deals” with “ambitious, pro-development, local authorities to help them build more social housing”. This seems especially aimed to entice those on low incomes who spend a huge chunk of their income on rent. Their manifesto states they will look at government building 160,000 new homes on its own land, build new ‘fixed term social’ houses and give greater flexibility to housing associations to increase their housing stock.
Nevertheless, their plan comes with no new funding outlined beyond the £1.4 billion for affordable housing (not social housing) already earmarked in the 2016 autumn statement – which promised just 40,000 new homes.
Both parties have expressed a need to control soaring rental prices and mirror Scotland’s rental cap which is being rolled out towards the end of this year so it seems the lettings industry will be hit hard afterall especially as both parties are planning to continue with the Tenant fee ban. If the ban plus the rent cap is put in place throughout the UK, it could be seen as a further blow to agents and private landlords after the recent reduction in mortgage interest rate relief and the new stamp duty surcharge.
A Shelter spokesman recently said that “England has regulations in place, but they are incredibly weak and ineffective. It’s easy for landlords to impose excessive rent increases, with tenants able to choose between paying up, or moving out. If we adopted a cap, we will see landlords selling off their properties and it therefore won’t tackle the main problem which is a lack of stock.”
Nevertheless, because of this lack of stock, there will always be the need for private landlords to let their properties and the lettings market should remain buoyant. We believe monitoring rental prices goes hand in hand with finding good quality and long-term tenants who pay their rent on time and it’s a shame that similar focus has not been shone on this by either party.
As a specialist Gloucestershire based Letting agent, we have the knowledge to advise on rental prices in our area and are always happy to offer our own impartial industry knowledge to first-time and accidental landlords as well as veteran landlords considering increasing their prices.
With regards to the 2017 General Election and what happens on the 8th June, only time will tell which party’s manifesto best supports the property industry. We can only sit back and wait for the results of the party that galumphs to victory and cross our fingers Lettings in general comes out on the other side only slightly bruised.
Angharad Trueman – Operations Manager