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High profile agent calls for 'cross-party housing tsar'

The boss of 300 branch agency Belvoir has called on the government to appoint a cross-party housing tsar to work with the new housing minister.

In an open letter to Theresa May, Dorian Gonsalves, Belvoir's chief operating officer, says the introduction of a housing tsar role would help increase market stability.

He suggests that as well as the housing minister, an industry tsar could work with experts, social housing providers and all housing stakeholders to create a stable property market with a long-term vision.

The letter says that one of the biggest issues currently facing the industry, is the fact that housing ministers are only remaining in the post for approximately 12 months.

Last week, Reading West MP Alok Sharma was appointed to the role. He is the 15th housing minister since 1997 and the sixth since the Conservatives took office in 2010.

Gonsalves' letter goes on to outline the issues he feels the new minister - alongside a housing tsar - should tackle.

These include encouraging landlords back into the buy-to-let market, Build to Rent, introducing mandatory Client Money Protection and ombudsman schemes.

The letter is reproduced in full below:

Dear Theresa May,

Following the recent appointment of another new Housing and Planning minister, Belvoir, which has over 300 High Street Offices in the UK, is suggesting the appointment of a cross-party housing tsar to work with industry experts, social housing providers and all housing stake holders to create a stable property market with long-term vision.

Former Foreign Office minister Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West, is currently Britain's sixth Housing Minister since the Tories came into power in 2010.

As Housing Ministers are only remaining in post for approximately 12 months I believe that the appointment of a housing tsar, who could work with industry experts and politicians from all parties, and then make recommendations to the new Housing Minister, would be an effective way of increasing market stability, and would be extremely beneficial for the housing industry.

Belvoir has long been calling for action that will encourage landlords back into the sector, as landlords are undoubtedly best placed to supply much-needed new rental properties. It is no longer acceptable to use landlords as a scapegoat for the failings of successive Housing Ministers with short term plans for the housing market. A long-term, strategic vision for a housing market that works for everyone is desperately needed.

Although there are reports that investment in the City into Build to Rent will rise to £70 billion by 2021, this will still not supply anything like the 1.8 million homes that are needed in this country for those who are reliant on the Private Rental Sector.

Belvoir is fully committed to mandatory Client Money Protection (CMP) schemes and full licensing schemes of all landlords, similar to schemes introduced in Scotland and Wales. The previous Housing Minister seemed to suggest that CMP will become mandatory, however there is no mention of ensuring that the five million tenants in the UK who currently rent through private landlords will have access to an ombudsman scheme which will allow them fair redress, similar to consumers of telecommunications and energy companies.

Currently, only tenants who rent through letting agents have access to an ombudsman scheme, which seems to be extremely unfair. If the government is going to ban or cap tenant fees we believe that additional measures should be introduced to provide protection for the millions of tenants who rent through private landlords.

I hope that the new Housing Minister will be looking at these and other key issues, and I am confident that the appointment of a housing tsar could result in an improved long-term strategy for the industry

Yours sincerely,

Dorian Gonsalves

Chief Operating Officer

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