A leading trade body is urging the candidates to lead the Conservative Party to adopt a more positive approach to the private rented sector.
In a letter sent to Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson the Residential Landlords Association warns that the interests of tenants are not being well served by policies which are reducing the supply of homes to rent.
According to government data, 10 per cent of landlords representing 18 per cent of all tenancies in the sector plan to reduce the number of properties they rent out whilst five per cent of landlords representing five per cent of tenancies plan to leave the sector altogether.
Recent RLA research suggests that 46 per cent of landlords are planning to sell some or all of their properties.
This comes following a raft of Tory policies aimed at - in the eyes of the RLA - dampening investment in the market, including imposing a tax on landlord investment in new homes to rent.
The association adds that most recently the government has proposed limiting the ability of landlords to repossess properties when they need to.
As a result of the fall-off in investment, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has warned that expectations for increasing rents are now at their highest point for three years.
David Smith, RLA policy director, says: “The new Conservative Prime Minister needs to reconsider the approach to the private rented sector. Otherwise the situation for tenants will just get worse as they face less choice and higher rents because of a growing shortage of properties.
“We need a raft of changes that will encourage more investment in high standard homes rather than efforts to scapegoat landlords for failures by successive governments to build enough homes.”
The RLA is now calling on the leadership candidates to back its five point plan for the sector, namely:
- Pro-growth taxation to ensure enough homes to rent to meet growing demand;
- A fair system for repossessing properties that protects tenants from unfair evictions whilst retaining the confidence of landlords to regain possession of their property where there is a legitimate need. This needs to be coupled with a dedicated, housing court to settle disputes swifter and easier;
- Supporting vulnerable tenants by ending the Local Housing Allowance cap;
- Rooting out criminal landlords by providing councils with more resources to better use the powers they already have; and
- Rejecting all forms of rent controls which serve only to dry up the supply of homes to rent, reducing choice for tenants and thereby increasing rents overall.