If you couldn't make it to Rent Freedom Day, we have the next best thing - video of two of the biggest events on the schedule: the opening speech from journalist, author and fresh-faced firebrand Owen Jones (20 mins), and the National Renters Hustings (1h15m).
MPs from four main parties came together for the first time in the real world to debate renting and face questions from the public. Conservative Mark Pawsey, Labour's Emma Reynolds, Lib Dem Minister Stephen Williams and the Greens' Caroline Lucas all bravely faced an audience that has long been overlooked by politicians and wants answers. UKIP was invited but didn't send anyone.
Inspired by Savills' findings on landlord capital gains last month, we decided to look at just what sort of money landlords in the UK are making – and how much we the taxpayer are helping them.
As reported in the Guardian this morning, UK landlords make £77.7bn each year in rent and capital gains. This is more than Morocco’s GDP of £68.6bn (for a country of 33m people), making the industry the 61st largest economy in the world (UN 2013).
They are also subsidised to the tune of £26.7bn in tax breaks and housing benefit. That is higher than the £25bn of cuts that George Osborne claims are needed after the election. It is also more than our spending on the overseas aid budget of £10.3bn, job seekers allowance of £4.34bn, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s entire budget of £6.14bn, and the £1.13bn Affordable Homes Programme put together.
The cost of landlord subsidies to Britons is £1011 per household. That is the cost of a week’s holiday for four in Majorca, a 55” HD TV, or a Boardman Road Team Carbon bike.
As hundreds of renters gathered in Westminster yesterday to take part in Rent Freedom Day, a new poll we commissioned from Survation revealed how big an impact housing could have on the election - if politicians made it a priority.
Almost two fifths of voters (38%) would back a party that made housing one of its top three priorities, the poll found. It also revealed that the housing crisis is now affecting a majority of Britons, with 57% saying they, or someone they know, is struggling to buy or rent a suitable home.
Half (50%) of private renters are struggling to buy, while 43% say they are struggling to rent a suitable home, indicating that their current situation is difficult to live with.
A third of home owners (35%) say they know someone who is struggling to buy, which shows that many of those with the security of their own home are aware that there is a problem.
The outcome of the General Election looks increasingly likely to be determined by the party who wins most seats in Scotland: Labour or the Scottish Nationalists. Some new polling from Survation suggests that a rent control policy could be the deciding factor.
When asked what effect a political party proposing rent control in their manifesto would have on voting intentions at the May General Election, 25% of Scots said it would make them more likely to vote for that party. Only 5% say they would be less likely to vote for a party that offered rent control.
Hannah Fearn recently focused on the Residental Landlords’ Association’s call to politicians to back regulations they feel will increase properties and raise standards in the PRS. All parties are urged in this election year to support this sector which the RLA feels has the potential to become ‘a first choice for those seeking a place to live’. Hannah points out that far from making an active ‘choice’ about their tenure, private renters of 2015 feel ‘trapped’ and optionless.
An exclusive poll for tenants’ campaign Generation Rent published today shows that Britain overwhelmingly backs the return of rent controls. The poll by Survation of 1,009 people on 18th and 19th December shows that 59% of people back rent controls and only 6.8% of people oppose them. 34% had no opinion. That’s one person opposing the measure for every 9 people who support it.
A new national database, naming private landlords who have been convicted of safety breaches has been created by our friends over at Environmental Health News, the magazine of the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health’s magazine. This follows a ruling by the information commissioner that the Ministry of Justice must release its list of property firm convicted under the Housing Act 2004 – initially the MOJ refused.