UK Private Rental Sector Landlords Fear Upcoming General Election

UK Private Rental Sector Landlords Fear Upcoming General Election

UK Private Rental Sector Landlords Fear Upcoming General Election

With The UK’s next General Election less than 80 days away it is feared by some economists that many UK private rental sector (PRS) landlords will choose not to expand rental property portfolios this year.

Fluctuations in regional property prices and housing legislation changes have already hit the UK property market, and now the electioneering hype being spouted by MP’s from all political parties is doing very little to encourage landlords to increase their rental property portfolios.

Already there is a great deal of talk and speculation about the possible introduction of rent controls and the threat of increased taxes for landlords as the current Government and opposition MP’s attempt to leverage the strength of the UK’s buy to let property market.Rent controls are considered to be part of the unholy trinity of Government policy changes by private rental sector landlords, along with proposals for indefinite security of tenure for tenants and unwarranted mandatory landlord licensing schemes brought in by local authorities.

With the countdown to the General Election well underway, MP’s are attempting to influence voter sentiment by focusing on the apparent failings of the UK’s private rental sector, including blaming landlords for the anti social behaviour of their tenants, in an attempt to swing vote favour.

Nick de Bois, Conservative MP for Enfield North, presented his Housing Ombudsman (Power to Settle Disputes between Neighbours and Tenants) bill to Parliament last week, seeking new powers for the Housing Ombudsman to intervene in disputes between landlords of HMOs and their neighbours.

The proposed bill intends to hold absent landlords responsible for tenant anti-social behaviour without the need for the introduction of a special licence or placing a block on the HMO. Landlords would be tracked down by the Housing Ombudsman and would be forced to enter into negotiations with neighbours.

A recent survey conducted by an online estate agent discovered that only 20% of UK private rental sector landlords plan to expand their rental property portfolios this year with many respondents citing the upcoming General election and party political posturing as the reason behind the lack of expansion.

Online estate agent Urban.co.uk surveyed more than 500 UK private rental sector landlords and found that

  • 26% were concerned about the changes to property prices that the election could bring,
  • 20% were anxious about potential changes to rental regulations and legislation
  • 16% were concerned about taxation changes to landlords
  • 10% were worried about the imposition of rent controls

The main political parties are promising the UK general public a range of measures designed to appeal just to the rising number of private rental sector tenants, in attempt to influence votes.

It isn’t much of a surprise really, MP’s want to get elected so they will focus on the policies that they feel will create public empathy among the so called “Generation Rent” leaving landlords to worry about changes to housing regulations, rent controls, landlord taxation and property prices.

There is good reason for landlords to fear the re-introduction of price intervention policies such as rent controls, as they have a long history of damaging the market, both in the UK and abroad.

The UK’s private rental sector has grown rapidly over recent years and the housing shortage has exacerbated public opinion.

The UK’s private rental sector has a vital role to play in the UK’s economic health, however, the focus on increasing Government revenue from the PRS rather than increasing tenant’s rights seems to be the real driving factor behind legislative changes.

PRS landlords will want to continue to play a huge part in the UK’s economic recovery, because the PRS is more important than ever before.

Housing will be one of the main political battlegrounds over the next few weeks and it is clear that private rental sector landlords will remain cautious over spending, regardless of who forms the country’s next Government in May.

MP’s from all political parties should look at workable political policies that protect both tenants and their landlords, not one or the other, and all politicians should remember that the UK’s private rental sector is a business that must succeed and not an opportunity for rogues to ruin.

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