The government have issued a new white paper in order to fix the ‘broken’ housing market.
You cant live in a planning permission says Mr Barwell the housing minister.
Of course this is true but you also cannot live in a home that you cannot afford.
Let me give you some numbers around this.
In 1968 the government provided 191,000 public homes.
This year, the government have provided 36,000 public homes.
So where is the fix? What the white paper conveniently ignores are the fact that we have the most highly taxed property market in the world.
Put together with rising construction costs, a lack of skilled workers, the solutions are not easy to find.
The implications of this knock on to both homeowners and of course tenants.
Any review must surely be welcomed but this should be a consultancy between stakeholders rather than a few well chosen soundbites.
That said, some of the suggestions contained in the white paper are welcome, particularly in regard to dealing with unscrupulous landlords and one of the more positive ideas is for longer term tenancies ( three years ) for rental.
Handled correctly, this could really assist tenants, particularly those with children in local schools.
We have yet to see the fine detail on the three year tenancy idea and it is rumoured to be aimed at corporate landlords and institutions.
Time will tell if it may apply to smaller landlords. However if it is like the dark days of the 70’s where removing a tenant is nearly impossible, you will find any affected landlords bolt faster than a speeding bullet.
We will then find an even more limited supply of rental property, leading to rent rises and a a lack of mobility for workers.
In a sector where we have growing demand and many long term landlords leaving the sector, we need to nurture a mutual trust between the government and small Landlords.
Given the governments’ total disregard for the small landlord, the exodus is hardly surprising.
We don’t see that trust or any attempt to nurture it from this white paper.
I cannot help thinking that Mr Barwell is a strange choice for housing minister given he has no previous experience in this sector and I wonder if the lack of perspective is a result of a career politician being given a job due to his ability to skew statistics as seen on his interview with Andrew Neil.
If you wish to see evidence of this, I give you Section 24, otherwise known as the tenant tax plus the punitive stamp duty increases.
If the government really wanted to assist the private rented sector, they would look to incentivise small, responsible Landlords to acquire a growing portfolio. Unfortunately such foresight seems sadly lacking with this government.
The talk of the day is about ‘greedy’ Landlords. Jealousy prevails in the sector and small Landlords have been made to feel like something on the housing ministers shoe.
Many Landlords feel that the government is actively looking to squeeze out the small Landlord so that their friends with larger companies can ‘professionalise’ the sector.
The lack of foresight here beggars belief. Corporates will answer to shareholders and they will look to squeeze the very tenants that the government claims it will help.
Conversely smaller Landlords are more likely to look at keeping a good tenant ahead of the headline rent.
So the question becomes what are you trying to achieve Mr Barwell? If it is the continued alienation of the smaller landlord with a view to tenants finding rents higher than ever, well done, you are already well on your way to achieving this.
If you want a truly mobile workforce, then you you need to respect, incentivise and help the smaller landlord. We see nothing in this white paper that does this.