The parties policies on PRS
Private Rental Sector – Party Policies
The big day approaches and finally it will be your time to decide.
So to help, here’s a brief outline of what each party are planning to do with the private rental sector in England?
The Tories are dodging any reference to rent control or changes to the existing system of assured shorthold tenancies. However, the reality of continued austerity will undoubtedly put pressure on the amount of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) being paid to landlords with tenants on benefits. The drive to Universal Credit will also create uncertainty for landlords letting to benefit tenants.
Generally, though they are proposing no change. Landlords will be left to their own devices and anything a landlord does would be voluntary.
Ed Milliband in the best socialist tradition wants to wave a big stick at landlords, promising tenants both a guaranteed 3-year tenancy along with capping rent rises to the level of inflation.
The two Eds also have it in for the humble letting agent, with a ban on letting agent fees. Presumably letting agents who have to make ends meat will seek to reclaim this lost revenue from landlords which will then likely to be passed on to the tenant. Expect higher rents.
Labour are also committed to a national register of landlords which they maintain will force out ‘rogue landlords’ and force up standards in the private rental accommodation. Although I’ve no idea quite how a register will do this, but they do like the idea of keeping tabs on all landlords. A long list of names and addresses could be used to their advantage.
On the plus side Labour have committed to scrapping the bedroom tax so that tenants on benefit will not be penalised in their LHA cheque for occupying a property larger than their assessment indicates.
A looser approach to budget rectitude means that benefit levels for housing benefit and LHA payments may not come under so much pressure from future budget cuts.
The Lib Dems have been very ambiguous about the private rental sector. For instance, they haven’t said that they would introduce rent controls or go for longer tenancies as in the case of the Labour Party. They have instead said that they will encourage it.
They propose protection against rogue landlords (but don’t specify how they are going to do this).
They would enable Local Authorities to enable licensing schemes for landlords and also encourage a voluntary licensing scheme for landlords.
They want to extend the use Rent Repayment Orders to allow tenants to have their rent refunded where serious risk to health or improvements have not been carried out by a landlord (seems reasonable to me)
They are keen to ban letting agent fees but only in certain circumstances.
The ‘foreigner’ loving party is surprisingly vocal about the private rental sector, offering the following pearls of wisdom:
They plan to reform the leasehold sector, reversing thousand of years of land law by limiting a freeholders right of forfeiture whilst giving more power to long-term leaseholders in blocks of 20 or more to convert their tenure to commonhold by a simple majority. It’s an egalitarian revolution!
Also for some reason UKIP want landlords to rent to more tenants on benefits, and to encourage us they are offering tenants longer-term tenancies (not a bad idea) of between 3 -10 years.
UKIP are also proposing that landlords who leave a property empty for more than 5 years will be made to to pay a penal rate of council tax, double the usual rate.
The Greens are all for a balance in housing tenure.
They want Assured Shorthold Tenancies to be phased out, replaced by Assured Tenancies with full security of tenure (they clearly haven’t read the history books on what happens when landlords are not able to obtain possession)
They love the idea that private sector tenants should be protected from harassment and unexpected or exploitative alteration in terms (whatever that means).
Property Hawk’s View
‘You pays your money and takes your choice’