General election 2019: Housing should be top ‘priority’

Boris Johnson’s call for a snap general election on December 12 to try to settle the issue of Brexit took very few people by surprise. But many buy-to-let landlords and letting agents will be hoping that the poll will prove positive for the private rented sector, as it presents the main political parties with an opportunity to address voters’ concerns about housing, and not just focus on attempts to exit the EU.

Research shows that many landlords have been affected by the introduction of tougher tax treatments and tighter bank lending criteria, with many buy-to-let landlords actively selling and reducing their property holdings as a consequence.

The latest study by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) shows that there has been a further increase in the number of landlords exiting the buy-to-let market in recent months, at a time when demand for private rented property is increasing.

According to the research, over the next 12 months 31% of landlords plan to sell at least one property with just 13% saying they plan to buy at least one.

A shortage of private rented housing together with strong demand from tenants has led to rising rents across most parts of Great Britain, and this is something that politicians must address.

Some parties will propose rent controls, but there is plenty of evidence to show that this could risk hurting tenants as well as landlords by further damping investment in the PRS and in some cases pushing up rents.

With successive governments failing to build enough housing – particularly social housing – the UK is in the grip of a worsening crisis, with homelessness on the rise.

So ahead of the general election, all political parties must make housing a primary political issue and set out clear strategies on how they would tackle the shortage of residential properties across the UK, including in the PRS.

Nick Leeming, chairman at Jackson-Stops, said: “All markets abhor uncertainty and the housing market is no exception. The priority now must be for politicians to provide reassurance by forming a Government, once elected, as quickly as possible.

“Regardless of how the government is formed, it is clear that each of the main political parties’ manifestos need to have housing as a priority and so a clear strategy must be put in place.”

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