Law News

General Election manifestos: Labour would leave landlords worse off

Em Morley - November 22, 2019

Yesterday (21st November) Labour released its manifesto for the 2019 General Election.

David Smith, Policy Director for the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), has responded to the publication of Labour’s General Election manifesto. Smith comments: “Labour’s plans would hurt tenants. It wants longer tenancies, yet is proposing nothing to encourage and support good landlords to stay in the market long-term. 

“Whilst enabling tenants to remain in their property is a good thing, it needs to be matched by a system that gives confidence that landlords can swiftly regain possession of their properties in legitimate circumstances such as tenant rent arrears or anti-social behaviour. Nothing in Labour’s plans provide that assurance. 

“Its plans for rent controls linked to inflation are also nonsense. The Office for National Statistics has shown that rents are increasing by less than inflation.

“The Party has failed to heed the warning of the Labour Chair of Parliament’s Housing Committee who has previously warned that rising rents will only be addressed when more homes are built. 

“The party’s former Housing Minister in Wales has also warned that rent controls serve only to reduce the quality of accommodation, choke off supply, and make it more difficult for tenants to find the homes to rent they need.

“We need to focus on providing more homes of every kind, including for private rent. Labour’s plans will fail to achieve this.”

General Election Manifestos
General Election Manifestos: Labour would leave landlords worse off

Joseph Daniels, founder of modular developer Project Etopia, has also commented on Labour’s manifesto: “By going after landbanking developers and focusing on the crucial element of land supply, Labour has really shown they are determined to look properly at the real causes behind periodic declines in housebuilding.

“This is what the industry needs, far more than housebuilding pledges that lack any real roadmap for how they will be delivered, which is what we’ve seen from parties in the past.

“Talk is often cheap and the industry is crying out for meaningful change to allow developers to unlock land and bring it forward for development. If this is achieved the country could see a real turning point in public policy to help solve the housing crisis.

“These pledges have to be balanced with the commitment to cut carbon emissions and the Liberal Democrats’ proposal that all homes should meet the Passivhaus standard shows the major parties are becoming more creative when it comes to housing policy. 

“A requirement to build to the Passivhaus standard would set a world-leading benchmark for housebuilding in Britain and send a strong message to developers about how quickly they need to make their construction process more carbon neutral.”

Milton Rodosthenous, Director of online auction service LetsBid Property, comments: “The housing sections of the election manifestos from the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats lack focus on reforming the homebuying and selling process which is crucial to helping people to move home, get on the property ladder or downsize.

“In recent months there have been some good ideas from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, including introducing reservation agreements and regulating property agents. It would be disappointing to see these initiatives fall by the wayside after the general election.

“The manifestos’ focus on providing affordable homes is welcome, however, the emphasis on housebuilding targets is perhaps misguided as these targets have been missed by numerous administrations over many years.

“The supply of homes is of course an issue which needs addressing, but it is not the only factor which could stimulate the housing market and make homeownership more seamless and attainable.

“For example, neither manifesto mentions stamp duty and how it could be reformed to create a less stagnant and fairer market.

“In the short-term, the government must focus on resolving Brexit so confidence in the housing market and economy can be rebuilt.

“In the long-term, there will need to be a concerted effort to address housing supply issues, make the moving process more efficient and to embrace technology and alternative buying and selling options such as the Modern Method of Auction.

“We now await the Conservative Party’s election manifesto with anticipation to see how Boris Johnson’s party is pledging to improve the housing market.” 

In response to Labour plans to produce 100,000 new council homes a year, Generation Rent Policy Manager Caitlin Wilkinson comments: “Labour’s commitment to building 100,000 council homes a year would help address years of chronic under-supply. We need large-scale public investment in building high-quality council or social homes to ensure that everyone has access to a secure and affordable home. 

“The growth of the private rented sector is a direct consequence of the failure of successive governments to build social housing. 11 million people in England rent privately, often paying high rents in return for poor conditions and with no security. 

“Building genuinely affordable council and social housing would ensure that high-quality housing is available for those on lower incomes, as well as meeting overall demand, which would reduce rents for those in the private sector.”

Caitlin Wilkinson has also commented on Labour plans for open-ended tenancies, rent caps and new minimum standards: “Abolishing Section 21 and introducing open-ended tenancies will cut homelessness and give renters the security they need to plan for their future. 

“Both main parties have now committed to ending unfair evictions under Section 21, meaning renters will be able to look forward to a secure home in the next Parliament.

“Capping rents will go some way towards ensuring that renting is genuinely affordable for those on low incomes, but over the long term we need measures to sustainably bring rents down to around 30% of median local incomes.

“For too long, renters have suffered substandard and dangerous conditions, and the party’s proposed national licensing scheme will help councils take action against criminal landlords who fail to meet basic standards and let out unsafe homes.”