Tory peer attacks his party over anti-rental sector policies

Conservative peer Lord Flight, a former shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, says the UK needs “a vibrant and growing private rental market” if Tory objectives are to be met should the party win the General Election.

Lord Flight, a long-standing supporter of the rental sector and a critic in the past of Conservative government policy failing to back landlords, says on the Conservative Home political website: “In its housing white paper the government has committed to encouraging institutional developers to build the rental homes we need. But it fails though to provide the support needed to the individuals and small businesses who make up the vast majority of the country’s landlords.”

He continues in his article: “Arguments that private renting is too expensive, insecure for tenants, and insufficiently regulated to sustain good standards do not stand up.The English Housing Survey shows that the average length a tenant has been in their private rented home has now increased to over four years. The Office for National Statistics has shown that in the year to April 2017, private sector rents in Great Britain rose by an average of 1.8 per cent, below the rate of inflation at 2.7 per cent over the same period.”

Using Residential Landlords Association figures, Flight says there are over 400 regulations affecting the sector, adding: “The issue is not about the sector not being regulated, but about those regulations being too many and so not being properly enforced.”

Flight urges that if the Tories win next month it should “ditch the ill-conceived tax hikes on private rented homes which are stifling investment” including scrapping the stamp duty surcharge on additional homes and accept that buy to let is the chief source of rental units.

In one of the most damning parts of his article, Flight writes: “At the same time that Conservatives are committed to helping tenants to afford a home of their own, the tax changes will, when landlords begin to meet with their accountants next year, see rents rise making saving for a deposit even harder. David Miles, a former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, has warned that landlords would need to increase rents by between 20 per cent and 30 per cent per cent to offset the impact of the tax increases.”

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