The Residential Landlords Association has launched its manifesto for this year’s general election.
The document’s key message is that politicians have a golden opportunity to make private rented housing a first choice for those seeking a place to live.
The RLA is calling on the political parties to support the growing private rented sector as it works to meet unprecedented demand.
As the only housing tenure that is growing, estimates suggest that individual landlords have invested a net sum of around £50 billion a year in homes to rent.
The RLA is calling on all parties to build on this, and encourage the majority of landlords, who are individuals, to invest in new properties to rent in order to provide tenants with greater choice over where they want to live.
Key recommendations in the manifesto include:
New measures to encourage investment in homes to rent, including changes to planning regimes and tax changes that could be used also to encourage the sale of rental properties to first time buyers
More rigorous enforcement of powers to tackle the small minority of criminal operators who bring the sector into disrepute.
A new right for tenants to renew their tenancies for up to five years to provide more security.
All parties committing to a period of stability in the welfare system for landlords and tenants alike.
RLA chairman Alan Ward said: “Landlords want a private rented sector that is first choice and not second best. Our sector is now the only part of the housing sector in the UK which is growing. Landlords have already responded to the growing demand for homes to rent but, with the right support, there is much more we could do. Our manifesto sets out a series of policy proposals which would help landlords play the fullest possible part in addressing our country’s housing needs.”
To ensure that all homes to rent are of a quality that tenants have a right to expect, the RLA is calling for improvements to the ability of local authorities to enforce regulations. At the heart of this is a recommendation that council tax forms be amended so that tenants have to identify the tenure of their property and details of their landlord or letting agents
“Faced with financial and staffing pressures, local authorities need a genuine intelligence based approach to enforcing regulations robustly. A national register of landlords would simply become a register of good landlords. No criminal operator would ever willingly make themselves known,” said Ward, “Our proposal would be more effective. The criminals could not evade scrutiny, and where tenants were unable to identify their landlord this would provide councils with the information they need to target properties of concern – a truly intelligence based approach.”
The RLA believes the general election offers a real chance for a mature debate on the private rented sector - without some of the knee-jerk calls for more red tape of the past.