This morning saw the launch of the Conservative Party Manifesto. Unlike in 2015, this one actually references the PRS several times, and hints at future changes to come. The full NLA briefing can be found here however we highlight some key points below.
Longer Term Tenancies
Will look at how security for good tenants is increased and how landlords can be encouraged to offer longer tenancies as standard
The Manifesto doesn’t say much more than the Government’s previous White Paper earlier this year, however there are hints that incentives might be used to encourage landlords to offer longer term contracts. This is something we predicted in one of our previous blogs. Make no mistake this issue is on the Government’s radar and looms large in its to-do list.
A fair debt policy – creating a “Breathing Space” for those in serious problem debt, allowing them to apply for legal protection from further interest, charges and enforcement action for a period of up to six weeks.
This is a potentially very interesting part of the manifesto hidden in plain sight on page 60.
Such a scheme would be beneficial for vulnerable households who are caught in a spiral of debt and is not something the NLA would wish to object to.
How this could potentially impact on a valid S21 if served before someone applies to this scheme is something that we will be seeking clarity on as a matter of urgency for members. At present, we believe this is a financial scheme designed to help vulnerable people, but the devil is in the detail and we will lobby to make sure it is got right.
We recognise that the main cause of homelessness is the loss of a short hold assured tenancy. Some campaigners have seen this as an excuse to call for the abolition of S21. The Government, and in particular Housing Minister Gavin Barwell recognise that these calls miss the point, as he accepts that there is always a legitimate reason why landlords seeks repossession, and that it is the last resort.
That is why we believe that this policy has honest intentions but we will endeavour to find our more details, IF the Conservatives win in June.
Equalities law will be strengthened so that private landlords who deny people a service on the basis of ethnicity, religion or gender are properly investigated and prosecuted
This has been referred in the office as the Fergus Wilson paragraph and we wholeheartedly endorse the Governments intentions here. It should be noted however that this comes as the Government are facing possible legal action themselves over Right to Rent.
A commitment to upgrading all fuel poor homes to EPC band C by 2030
This is a noble intention and follows the requirement to bring properties up to a minimum E standard by 2018-2020. However there remain unanswered questions about how the government think landlords will be able to afford the often very costly renovations, especially with no replacement in sight for the abandoned Green Deal.
Tenants are now clearly seen as consumers by the Conservatives with landlords being seen as providing a service. We would largely agree with this definition adding that landlords are in the business of providing homes to people in the midst of a housing crisis. Now if only we could be taxed like normal businesses…