If the numbers add up for him next week, Ed Miliband will be Prime Minister and he will start attempting to reform the private rented sector with longer tenancies and rent stabilisation. We've already spotted holes in his plans that would undermine attempts to give renters better protections, but at least we support reform in principle. Most of the ire directed at Labour since they announced the policy is from those who oppose any form of regulation of rents.
Today's Guardian reports on Labour plans to redefine the word "affordable". It is a word that has caused much confusion and anger in housing circles since the current government reformed the grant system for social housing.
To be deemed affordable and thus qualify for state subsidy, new homes must be offered to tenants at a maximum of 80% of local market rents. To call this affordable betrays a staggering lack of awareness. In the real world, 80% is not much cheaper than the expensive rents set by the free market; it is not affordable to people on average incomes in expensive areas, let alone those on low incomes whom subsidised housing is supposed to prioritise.
The latest announcement from Labour is that first-time buyers will be given a ‘holiday’ on stamp duty for homes purchased under £300,000. With the average house price in London standing at over £460,000 it is clear this policy will only be applicable outside of the capital.
It's great that Labour is looking at cutting tax breaks for bad private sector landlords, but they should be targeting them all.
Sounds a bit strange to say this but it’s absolutely true, however, it will make your tenure more secure.
Labour’s proposal is to cap rent increases at inflation for the first three years of a tenancy. This doesn’t give you the ability to plan your finances – because you don’t know what the inflation rates will be over the next three years – but it is a long way from wild west situation we have today.
Over on Landlord Law Blog, Tessa Shepperson has offered three warnings to politicians who are trying to tackle housing policy on their election campaigns.
In a nutshell, she notes the importance of housing to people’s health, wellbeing and life chances, highlights the lack of real information about the private rented sector and the actors within it, and the need to ensure it is not a bad investment.
The blog is really raising concerns about Labour’s proposals for the private rented sector: essentially rent stabilisation and longer term tenancies. These are both policies that Generation Rent is calling for – though we think Labour should go further. Tessa makes valid points about them and they merit a response.
All five main UK-wide parties have now published their election manifestos. I took a trawl through them to dig out their plans for renters and the wider housing market.
Today, we're very sad to say that we have to withdraw our support for the Homes for Britain campaign. The title's great but in reality we believe the strategy is so flawed that it has to date undermined the interests of people suffering the consequences of the housing crisis.
We're not suggesting anyone else leaves the coalition, but we are asking signatories to work with us on a more effective, loose campaigning network, and to influence Homes for Britain so that it advocates solutions to the housing crisis that are significantly more timely than within a generation.
Our letter to Homes for Britain supporters is below, but of course we have no such list. We'd be grateful if you could share this letter by email and social media. Anyone organisation that wants to participate in delivering material change, whether that be by asking a network for support or by offering it, or even simply keeping abreast, should email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks so much,
Director, Generation Rent
With the launch of the Conservative Party manifesto today, housing jumped up the media and political agenda – but sadly not in the way that will please people looking for genuine and long-term solutions to the housing crisis.
Today's Financial Times (registration required) reports that the Department for Communities and Local Government has blocked nearly 10,000 new homes from being built since the start of 2015.
What on earth is the government playing at?