There is one year until the 2015 General Election and housing will be a central issue. We are deep in a housing crisis and radical action will be needed, whoever is in government once the votes are counted.
We've had a number of requests to publish the list of how MPs voted in the failed bid to outlaw letting agent fees to tenants. You can see the full list here.
This campaign isn't dead though. We'll be working with enlightened Peers to bring this back in the Lords. Unlike MPs, Lords don't get their letting agent fees paid on expenses so we're expecting more support.
You may have seen us on Channel 4 News recently discussing their investigation into rent-to-rent landlord Daniel Burton. Just to update you, we met yesterday with the heads of all three schemes to discuss how tenants can be protected from people like Burton.
We had a very productive meeting and we will continue to discuss a range of ideas on issues around the Daniel Burton story. We'll let you know how these discussions progress.
The Government yesterday backed letting agents over renters by refusing to ban fees to tenants. In voting on the Consumer Rights Bill, Conservative and LibDem whips defeated the ban 281 to 228. The Government instead promised new fines for agents who don’t publish their fee tariff.
On Tuesday 13th May MPs will be voting on an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill that will ban letting agent fees to tenants.
Please sign up to our campaign here and use the form below to write to your MP asking them to back this amendment. You can edit the text of the draft letter below if you like. Just click on it to edit.
Supply and demand.
Oh you wanted more than that? Ok.
There is short supply and high demand for homes to rent. The balance between these forms a price that a tenant is willing to pay a landlord. So far not controversial.
However, that is not how the relationship between tenant and agent is characterised. At the time of signing a contract, the agent is the gatekeeper to a single home with any number of keen tenants. The agent is not an actor in the market for homes to rent but a creator of micro-monopolies for single homes.
With the news that private renters could hold the deciding vote in 86 seats at next year's election, political parties are realising that they need to win them over.
First to make a move is Labour, whose leader, Ed Miliband, will announce plans on Thursday to introduce new laws to:
- extend the standard length of a tenancy to 3 years
- ban letting agent fees
- cap rent rises
A research report published by a landlord representative body today tries and fails to defend deregulation of private renting, and only reinforces the case for a national landlords register. The Residential Landlords Association has published “The impact of regulation on the private rented sector”, a report by Professor Michael Ball of Henley Business School, which claims that current regulations are failing to achieve their aims. We agree that existing regulations are not working, but what renters need is a national register of landlords.
A new report from Wriglesworth Consultancy and Paragon, the mortgage broker, has claimed that since the buy-to-let mortgage was launched 18 years ago, landlords have made an annual average profit of 16.3% - hugely outstripping average returns from the stock market. While this makes the UK buy-to-let market a hugely lucrative investment for landlords, it’s time to count the cost to their captive tenants.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has published figures predicting that the Housing Benefit bill for private sector tenants will rise from £9.5bn in 2013/14 to £10.0bn in 2018/19 (when you take out inflation). In the same period, the number of private tenants claiming benefit will increase by more than 10%, from 1,674,000 to 1,852,000.
In the past year, house prices have risen by 9.1% and in the same period the number of buy-to-let loans has increased by 39%, as landlords spot an investment opportunity. And it doesn’t matter if they’ve paid too much because the tenant, or their housing benefit, can pay off the mortgage.