The majority of tenants are yet to be convinced by the raft of housing policies set out by the UK’s main political parties, according to the National Landlords Association (NLA).
With just over six months to go before next year’s General Election, 62% of tenants surveyed by the organisation said they were unsure whether any of the political parties will be able to tackle the UK’s housing crisis.
The findings were particularly bleak for the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats, the only two parties to clearly outline a housing manifesto so far.
The former has controversial plans to reform private renting, with proposals including default three-year tenancies and a ban on letting agent fees. This is not to mention the proposed Mansion Tax, which hit the headlines again this week.
The latter has vowed to end the so called practice of retaliatory evictions, introducing the Tenancies (Reform) Bill which is currently making its way through Parliament.
Interestingly, 13% of respondents said that they believe Labour is taking the right approach on housing compared to the Lib Dems and the Conservatives – a figure which would no doubt be significantly lower in a survey of letting agents and landlords.
What’s more, 8% of those surveyed said they think that UKIP are best placed to improve housing, 7% said Conservatives, 3% the Green Party and just 2% said the Liberal Democrats.
“These findings suggest that as a vote-winning strategy, pitching to renters is falling flat on its face. Tenants are at best undecided, or worse, have no faith in the ability of any of the parties to improve private housing across the UK,” said Carolyn Uphill, Chairman at the NLA.
Uphill commented that Labour and the Liberal Democrats’ view of private housing is well off the mark when compared with the majority of tenants’ experiences.
“We don’t need one-sided electioneering, we need the commitment towards a fair balance between landlords, tenants and agents, and a genuine partnership between the market, regulators and government,” she concluded.
Richard Price, Executive Director of the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) added: “The collective concerns voiced by the industry over their [Labour] plans to reform private housing have been swatted away by the party, and this now indicates that their approach hasn’t really won any support from tenants either.”
“What’s important is that fees are fair and transparent from the outset and that the tenant is aware of what they will have to pay, when and why.”
“You can ban a fee but you can’t ban a cost, so while outlawing agent fees sounds like a simple solution, the difference will inevitably have to be recovered elsewhere – most likely as higher rents – and it won’t solve the issue.”