Labour Party’s attitude towards landlords is softening

It seems that even the Labour Party’s attitude towards landlords is softening given Lisa Nandy’s recent comments. In a recent statement she has rejected the idea of rent controls, describing it as a “sticking plaster on our deep-seated problems”.

The shadow housing secretary said the policy would “almost certainly” leave some people homeless. In September, she had said local leaders should be able to freeze rents in their areas over the winter. Labour mayors including Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham have called for rent freezes, so this looks like a significant change in policy, probably off the back of its total failure in Scotland.

Tenants in the UK faced the highest rent increases on record last year, with private rents rising by 5% in the 12 months to May, according to the latest official figures. This is clearly as a result of the dramatic reduction in supply of rentable houses as private landlords exit the market en mass.

In addition, she said, “As the mortgage crisis deepens – for homeowners and renters alike – it is perhaps inevitable that the debate has turned again to short term fixes,” Ms Nandy told a housing conference in Manchester.

“And when housebuilding is falling off a cliff and buy-to-let landlords are leaving the market, rent controls that cut rents for some, will almost certainly leave others homeless.

“It might be politically easier to put a sticking plaster on our deep-seated problems, but if it is cowardice that got us here, it is never going to get us out.”

A Labour source told the BBC there was concern about the potential “unintended consequences” of rent controls, including an increase in evictions.

Clearly the penny has started to drop in Westminster, and not a moment too soon. The mantra of making life difficult for landlords has resulted in much greater hardship for renters, not because landlords want payback but because they have had enough and are exiting the market. The net result is fewer homes to rent and lack of supply and increased demand naturally has pushed rents significantly higher.

A long term solution is required, and these measures include but are not exclusive to, greater levels of house building, not just in the big cities, sensible tax legislation to get good landlords back into the market, punitive measures against bad landlords that ensure they exit the market and fair treatment for tenants which is the remit of the Renters Reform Bill.

Now that the Labour Party’s attitude to landlords is softening, we need to see the government head in the same direction however this is a challenge I doubt they will rise to, policy is set, and they are not for turning!

If you are a landlord and wish to discuss your options moving forward, then contact us for a no obligation chat.

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