The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has accused Labour of being thin on detail when it comes to the housing policies advocated at its party conference this week.
A speech to the conference by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell pledged to “cap rents and build a million new genuinely affordable homes, so young people in particular aren’t pouring away thousands of pounds from their wages to rip-off landlords”.
Hew Edgar, head of government engagement at the RICS, says that Labour spoke of the need to stand up for tenants and to start the largest council house building programme in a generation, but gave little substance to the promises.
“Standards are the only way to improve private tenant conditions, not rental caps, eviction changes or tenure lengths” says Edgar, in reference to the Conservative government’s intention to scrap Section 21 powers for landlords, which is also supported by the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties.
“If Labour rule care for tenants, they will look to adopt minimum standards for all who rent a property” he continues.
On the council housing pledge, Edgar adds: “As the Chancellor only spoke of one user group of private rented tenure, the lack of detail on achieving their ambitious build targets makes it hard to see a genuine change for housing supply and conditions.”
And he concludes: “RICS supports Labour’s ambition for councils to start building again and to deliver social homes for those in need, but they must provide the details of how they will deliver it, including looking at alternative methods of delivery if it is not to be yet another arbitrary figure that isn’t met.”
The Labour conference has now ended without any reference to a controversial policy suggested earlier this month by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, that Labour would introduce the right to buy for private rental sector tenants, including giving them discounts to purchase at below market value.