With their blinkered focus on homeownership, politicians are letting down landlords and tenants, according to a new report commissioned by the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA). Chief Executive Ben Beadle discussed the findings – and what needs to change.
Soaring costs, rising interest rates and the promise of yet more regulation around the corner makes this a difficult time to be a landlord and as a consequence, a tenant.
More and more of our members say they are considering selling off homes – more than a quarter at the last count – yet demand continues to increase.
The latest figures from property platform Zoopla show demand is 46% above average, while total supply is 38% lower.
Keen to tackle this question head on, the NRLA has commissioned new research going back to basics, looking at the function of the private rented sector in society and its role amidst the current chronic housing shortage and affordability crisis, ultimately highlighting the desperate need for a clear, positive, strategic vision for the private rented sector of the future.
Carried out by former Head of Housing, at the thinktank Policy Exchange and Government economist Chris Walker, the resulting report, ‘A housing market that works for everyone: Rethinking the role of the private rented sector’ proves the PRS supports local labour markets and provides vital homes for millions of renters who, for a myriad of reasons, do not want to buy.
There are so many cliches hardwired into narratives around the PRS – not least that tenants are ‘trapped’ in rented accommodation.
Yes, many tenants who took part in the research said they would like to own their own home one day – 75 per cent in fact. But tellingly, just 18 per cent of that number said that given the option, they would have taken that step.
There are a number of reasons for this. They may want to strike out and try out life in a new town or city, move in with a partner for the first time, live with friends after leaving university….
The PRS gives people the opportunity to do this without taking on the financial burden of a mortgage they don’t want and don’t need. Yet no-one is talking about this.
Nor is anyone talking about the 80% of private renters that consider their rents fair, good or excellent.
Of course, this isn’t always a matter of choice. There are people for whom homeownership is not an option, for reasons of affordability, who have no choice but to live in the PRS. Yet they are the ones who will be squeezed further should the supply of rental properties fall, pushing up rents and making saving for a deposit even more challenging.
With this research, we want to reframe the conversation and get rid of the homeowner v PRS rhetoric.
There is room for both tenures, and both should be encouraged to flourish. The PRS should no longer be seen as the ‘poor relation’ by politicians and the media.
The findings of the report, which can be accessed in full here, will inform NRLA campaigning for pro-growth policies from the Government to encourage landlords to remain in the sector and continue to invest. This includes the reversal of Section 24 changes to mortgage interest relief.
If we are to address the severe housing shortage in this country, we need positive change and a sensible policy approach that recognises and supports the private rented sector landlords who are providing homes to more than 11 million people in the UK.
Ben Beadle is chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), the UK’s largest trade body for landlords.
A landlord himself since the age of 20, Ben started out as property manager before working his way up through the ranks at Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).
He was then Operations Director at property management business Touchstone before overseeing the merger of the National Residential Landlords Association (NLA) and Residential Landlords Association (RLA) to create the new trade body earlier this year.
His key aims as head of the organisation are to strengthen the voice of landlords in Westminster and Cardiff, to improve the reputation of landlords in the media and to support members through information, training and accreditation.
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