NRLA CEO Ben Beadle on the impact of a new leader on the sector.
Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak continue to battle it out to become Prime Minster with an announcement due next month, but what will their election mean for housing and the PRS?
Sunak and Truss have talked about homeownership and with the challenges that many face getting onto the housing ladder, but have remain tight-lipped about detailed policies as regards the private rented sector (PRS).
Truss has been the more outspoken of the two, telling me directly that the government has been ‘too hard’ on landlords in the past, and that she wants to encourage landlords to remain in the sector and rent out homes rather than selling up.
At a hustings event I attended earlier this month, she promised a ‘change of approach’, but did not elaborate as to what that approach would be or how she will encourage landlords to continue to invest.
Both candidates have largely sidestepped the issue of the growing supply crisis in the PRS, which itself comes in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis. However, now is the time to grasp the nettle.
Liz Truss has been the more forthcoming of the two candidates when it comes to the PRS.
She has spoken out about ‘unfair’ treatment of landlords and has committed to at least one firm policy as regards private renting, plans to revive a proposal that would allow tenants to record their rent with credit reference agencies.
Such a move could boost tenants’ credit scores, something which could help them when it comes to buying their own home.
It would also help landlords and agents, by allowing them to access data showing whether prospective tenants have a history of paying rent in full and on time. The NRLA believes this to be a good idea.
Truss has also gone on record saying she wants to make ‘buying and renting property cheaper and easier for people’, going on to say she is ‘concerned’ about the levels of regulation faced by landlords. She is also against rent controls, which she said would result in fewer properties being available to rent.
While these comments are welcome, she has not talked at any length about ways of tackling the issues landlords face.
Elsewhere she has called for the development of new investment zones with clearer planning rules and less ‘red tape’ allowing developers get on with building straight away in a bid to generate jobs and opportunities and wants to abolish centralised housing targets.
Tax cuts are central to her campaign, however her favoured economist, Patrick Minford, has said that interest rates will have to rise as high as 7% to allow tax cuts, something that would have a huge impact on landlords with interest only mortgages.
Sunak has stressed the importance of supporting people in social housing into homeownership.
Whether this focus on owner-occupation will be at the expense of the private rented sector, in terms of policy decisions is unclear, but it is a concern, and he has had very little else to say on PRS issues.
In terms of housing in general, Sunak wants a renewed focus on developing brownfield sites and stopping the practice of land banking.
Where taxation is concerned has not called for immediate cuts, arguing that it would drive inflation up and it is simply not affordable at the current time.
He has also made a big play of the need to improve the energy efficiency of the housing stock. He has hinted that he will prioritise insulation for low-income households over new technologies such as heat pumps.
Rental reform is a Conservative manifesto promise, while there could be delays to implementation, it is not likely to go away.
Consultation on the government’s White Paper ‘A Fairer Private Rented Sector’ continues at pace, and the message on the ground at the Ministerial meetings we have attended is ‘business as usual’.
The NRLA is currently conducting what we want to be the biggest ever landlord and letting agent survey on the proposals. Well over 2,500 landlords have already taken the survey, with the responses to be used as the basis for our submission to government in response to the White Paper and continued lobbying work. You can access the survey here and, if you are an agent, please complete and share with your clients.
I will be using the findings of this survey when I give evidence to the Levelling up Committee on the 5 September, giving your views directly to the people that matter.
In addition to this we have written to the two leadership candidates’ campaigns teams, stressing the next Prime Minister must address the supply crisis in the private rented sector as a matter of urgency.
We believe a change of administration is the perfect chance for a new start, a change of attitude from the top down, recognising the value of private landlords in providing vital homes to let.
With 23 per cent of landlords planning to sell off homes in the next 12 months it is clear action is needed now, to prevent rents rising further and council waiting lists growing ever longer.
In our written briefing we have stressed this is a direct result of the restrictions on mortgage interest relief for landlords and the stamp duty levy on additional homes.
We are calling on the successful candidate to end this hostility to landlords and take steps to encourage investment to meet the rising demand.
Removing the stamp duty levy alone would see almost 900,000 new private rented homes made available across the UK over the next ten years. This would lead to a £10 billion boost to government revenue through increased tax receipts according to analysts, Capital Economics
We will continue to lobby on these issues and question candidates on their housing policies ahead of the vote, which closes on September 2.
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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