Its election time again. Love it or hate it, most of us have some idea of what we want from a new government – and the property sector is no exception. This week, Letting Agent Today published 13 key demands from ARLA and the NAEA. Both organisations want the next government to intervene in the industry in a big way.
Here’s what they set out in their manifesto:
Regulation of property agents – The new government must commit to regulating property agents and take forward the recommendations of the Regulation of Property Agents working group chaired by Lord Best.
Abolish the 3% surcharge on additional residential property – This policy has contributed to a stagnation of the private rented sector, which is now the second-largest housing tenure after owner-occupiers.
Property MOTs – An annual MOT of rental properties should replace existing discretionary licensing schemes. It would improve enforcement, and give landlords a steer on how to maintain or improve conditions for tenants.
Exempt downsizers from stamp duty or give them incentives to encourage them to move – Pensioners wanting to downsize to a smaller home should be exempt from paying stamp duty; more specialised homes should be built for older people, and the Government should introduce over-65s bonds for downsizers.
Court reform – Introducing a dedicated Housing Court for England and Wales would considerably cut the time taken for a landlord to gain possession of a property and will make the process more straightforward for all parties involved.
Digital logbooks – To cut down the number of failed property transactions and speed up the process of property buying and selling, the government should introduce a digital property logbook to allow for a more interactive, streamlined and transparent process for both home buyers and sellers.
Legislate to ensure developers remedy leasehold agreements containing onerous clauses – The next government should legislate to ensure that developers help those affected. This would encourage mortgage lenders to lend to buyers of these properties and promote the sale of existing leasehold properties.
End the Local Housing Allowance cap and improve how Universal Credit operates – The continued cap in Local Housing Allowance must be lifted to accurately reflect the cost of renting. Also, tenants should be able to choose whether the housing element of their Universal Credit is paid direct to their landlord. The new government should introduce the option for Universal Credit to be paid twice monthly to assist with budgeting.
Open up the database for rogue landlords and property agents – Access for tenants, agents, and regulatory bodies would make the database a stronger deterrent to rogue operators and would allow agents to vet potential employees, limiting rogue individuals from moving into sales from lettings.
Review landlord taxes – Investment is falling due to the phasing out of tax relief on mortgage interest for landlords, the additional SDLT surcharge on buy-to-let property and the repercussions of the Tenant Fees Act.
Introduce new regulations for short term lets – Left unchecked, Airbnb is likely to have a bigger impact on the wider lettings market. As Airbnb grows, and more legal requirements are placed on letting agents and landlords, it could take more properties out of the private rented sector because the returns on short term lets are potentially more lucrative and there are fewer regulatory requirements.”
Help the Private Rented Sector with energy efficiency and climate change – The Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance (LESA) should be reintroduced and extended to include anything contained within the Recommendations Report of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
Extend Flood Re to the leasehold and Private Rented Sectors – An estimated seven million homes remain excluded from the Flood Re insurance obligation, including 1.1m leasehold homes and three million homes in urban areas.
Do you agree with these demands? What would you like to see the new Government do to help the property sector?
We will be setting out our own Ringley wish list in a future blog but in the meantime, leave your comments below. We would love to hear your views.