An outspoken Conservative party figure says government policies such as the scrapping of Section 21 will play into the hands of rogue tenants and lead to a worsening of the housing crisis overall.
Rosalind Beck - a doctor of criminology and Tory member from south Wales, who recently alleged that the increasingly anti-business sentiment of the Conservatives was driving voters to rival parties - says on the influential Conservative Home website that proposed reforms to S21 should be of wider concern, not just to housing professionals.
“Section 21 was the key element in the Housing Act which gave landlords and lenders confidence they could get a property back when they needed to. Abolishing it will take tenancy law back to the last century, when the absence of adequate means of regaining possession caused the private rental sector to shrink from comprising 90 per cent of all housing to just nine per cent. Housing quality was also poor” she says.
Beck points to the recently-published English Housing Survey which reveals that 83 per cent of private tenants are satisfied or very satisfied with their housing, compared to 80 per cent in the social sector.
“Why would the Government interfere with the excellent progress that has been made in housing quantity and quality, by taking this regressive step to shrink the private rental sector? An estimated 150,000 more households will be needed in the coming year. Who will provide the homes for them? Not private landlords. Where is the estimation of the effect this will have on homelessness levels?”
And she adds that she has personal experience of the loss of stock which could result from the government policies.
“I have advised my brother, now that he has retired, to leave empty the extra property he purchased when he moved for work. As I told him, when faced with potentially losing control over his asset, it is not worth the extra income of a few hundred pounds a month. Is this what the Government wants? Empty houses?” she writes.
Beck warns the Conservatives that losing landlord and other property professional votes in marginal constituencies could, quite literally, cost the party seats.
“We can only hope that Boris Johnson not only retains Section 21 – to scrap was an ill-considered attempt by Theresa May to establish a legacy – but in fact, improves on it so that landlords can get swifter justice. One should not forget that although the private and social housing sectors together house nearly half of the population, it is private landlords who now provide the essential safety net for the lowest-income tenants and who house 10 out of 11 homeless people. If the hostile environment for landlords persists, they won’t for much longer.”