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Will The Housing Crisis Win The Election?

Will The Housing Crisis Win The Election?

The Politics Of Housing

It is still generally acknowledged by all political parties that there is a housing shortage in the UK, and each political party wants to offer the public alternative methods of tackling the problem in an attempt to win electoral favour.

Most political parties see the housing crisis in the UK as a possible election winning issue and each party’s election manifesto promises the general public many things, including further private rented sector (PRS) reforms and the introduction of additional legislation. There isn’t much offered by any political party for landlords, except for the promise to put an end to the private rental sector.

A recent survey by Ipsos MORI research published in January 2015 discovered a confusing conundrum, in that:

  • 75% of the public agree that there is a housing crisis in the UK
  • 48% of the public disagree there is a housing crisis in their locality

The publication of each political party’s election manifesto is intended to give the public a clearer indication of the housing priorities of the UK’s next parliament.

However, despite claims of a housing shortage nationally there are still some UK regions that have large proportions of derelict and abandoned properties, many still in a habitable condition.

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Political Parties Focus On Housing To Win Election

Political Parties Focus On Housing To Win Election

Political Housing Policies Could Have A
Major Impact On Landlords

The May 2015 General Election could have a major impact on the UK’s private rental sector (PRS), with each political party promising something different for the reform of the UK housing market and the private rental sector.

Each political party has their own propaganda to attempt to influence voter sentiment ahead of the May 2015 General Election, but do they really have landlord and tenant interests at heart?

All political campaigning promises something different for home owners and landlords with some political parties focussing on real issues that could make a difference whilst others continue to apportion blame and responsibility on to local authorities and private rented sector landlords.

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More Details Emerge On Government Demand For Transparency Over Letting Agent Fees

More Details Emerge On Government Demand For Transparency Over Letting Agent Fees

More Details Emerge From Government
On Letting Agent Fees Debate

The Government have declared that all UK letting agents and property management agents must display full details of all fees charged to tenants on websites and in offices.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg faced a tough grilling at his House Of Commons session from Labour MP Harriet Harman, who wanted the Government to back the ban on letting agents charging fees to tenants.

Ms Harman told MPs: “Not least because of the difficulties of affording to buy a home, there are now 9 million people renting, including 1.3 million families with children – security and continuity are particularly important for them. It is time to move from one-year tenancies with unpredictable rents to three-year tenancies with predictable rents. What we need to be sure is that letting agents do not rip tenants off by charging fees to the tenants, as well as charging the landlords.”

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The Housing Minister Grant Shapps has again dropped another broad hint that the Government plan to step in and regulate the UK Private Rental sector affecting the rights of both Landlords and Tenants.

A proposed new bill of rights for Buy-To-Let (BTL) landlords and tenants in the UK private rental sector could be introduced by the Government in an attempt to make the PRS market easier to operate in.

The Housing minister said that the plan was to take all the separate housing regulation for both parties and group them in an umbrella-style document, covering all bases. The plans are thought to include regulation covering fire safety and anti-social behaviour.

Mr Shapps said: “One way of reducing the regulatory burden on landlords but also improving the safety and security for tenants would be to provide a central, standardised document, containing all landlord and tenant responsibilities from fire safety to anti-social behaviour.”

Lib Dem MP, Adrian Sanders, is also in favour of the proposed changes, stating that it would “simplify” the private rental sector, in the same way that the planning sector has benefited from a similar scheme.

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Government Welfare Reforms Stumble

Government Welfare Reforms Stumble

The UK Coalition Government plans to cap benefits will still be fully implemented despite the parliamentary defeat in the House of Lords on Monday this week.
A defeat that saw 26 Lib-Dem peers rebel against the Government’s wishes.

Although, the Government have admitted that whilst disappointed by the result, they still intend to push through the plans for welfare reform in full.

The plans have caused deep unease in the Lords and prompted a number of Church of England bishops to launch a bid for the reforms to be curbed, backed by a majority of 15.

Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Right Reverend John Packer introduced the amendment and following its success, said: “It cannot be right for the cap to be the same for a childless couple as for a couple with children. Child benefit is the most appropriate way to right this unfairness.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith led the Government’s call for all benefit payments limited to a maximum £26,000 a year per household, claiming that it will save approximately £600 Million (GBP) towards the UK’s multi Billion pound economic deficit.

Lord Paddy Ashdown joined 25 other Lib Dem peers voting for child benefit to be excluded from the cap calculations. The former party leader, previously a loyal supporter of the Government, said that as president of the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF, he was not prepared to back the Government’s plans in their current form, denouncing them as “completely unacceptable”.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has stated that he fully supports the Governments changes to the welfare benefit system, despite the rebellious divisions from within the Lib-Dem ranks.

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesman said: “There has to be a limit on the amount of money benefit claimants can receive. We think that limit is set at a fair rate of £26k – the equivalent to someone earning £35,000 before tax, a salary that many working families would be happy to receive.”

Around 67,000 families will lose £83 a week under the cap, which is due to be brought in from 2013 in England, Scotland and Wales.

It is expected that the welfare reforms will result in many families currently claiming housing benefit facing mounting financial pressures and even eviction from their homes, if they are unable to pay the rent.

If UK landlords do find themselves in the unenviable position of chasing bad debts or rent recovery, or if the worst happens, having to evict defaulting tenants then they should use the services of a reputable eviction specialist such as Legal 4 Landlords, to save effort, money, time and stress.

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Minutes from the last Monetary Policy Committee meeting show The Bank of England has sharply downgraded its growth forecast for the rest of the year, cutting their rate to close to zero, after having expected much stronger growth as recently as August.

The Minutes, released last Wednesday, show that the MPC voted unanimously to increase its quantitative easing programme by £75 billion, although discussed the possibility of raising it to £100 billion.

In its last quarterly report in August, the Bank estimated a 0.4% quarter on quarter growth for the last 3 months of the year and an annual 2.1% compared to the last quarter of 2010.

Independent analysts are beginning to downgrade forecasts for 2011 to below 1%. After the Minutes were released, the LibDem Business Secretary, Vince Cable, refused to rule out the possibility that there could be a double-dip recession.

In an outspoken interview, he admitted the “brutal reality” was that Britain’s economy is deteriorating.

During the week independent think-tank, the Centre for Economic and Business research, (CEBR), revised down its growth forecast for next year to 0.7%, below the Office of Budget Responsibility’s forecast of 2.5% and also revised down its growth forecast for this year to 0.6% from a range of 1% to 1.5%.

Even though there is still a chronic housing shortage in the UK, a Lib Dem MP has enraged homeowners and landlords with his latest idea.

According to the Liberal Democrat regeneration minister Andrew Stunell
“…it is a crime to allow properties to lie empty for more than six months

In an impassioned speech at the Lib Dem conference in Birmingham this week, Mr Stunell vowed to crack down on the owners of long-empty UK properties, by empowering local authorities to add a levy to their council tax bills.

The Regeneration Minister spoke of his determination to move away from the current system, under which property owners are spared from paying council tax for the first six months of their properties being empty, after which time they are liable to pay the standard occupied rate.

In his speech he said “A tax hike would force empty home owners to return to the market”.

A £100 Million (GBP) pot would be set aside to fund the regeneration of empty properties.

This will allow community and voluntary groups to be able to apply for funding to do up a proportion of the 300,000 empty properties across the UK themselves.

These latest controversial proposals will now go for further consultation, while the Con-Dem Government drafts its new empty homes strategy that is due to be published this Autumn.

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