We know that the economic rewards of investment in housing are enormous. Every £1 spent puts £3 back into the wider economy. And because every new home built creates jobs, it also gets people back into work.
But housing offers so much more. A decent home is a fundamental building block to a healthy, independent and dignified life, providing the secure base people need to achieve their aspirations.
That is why the RLA is delighted to be one of six core partners in Homes for Britain – a united voice for housing.
The RLA has teamed up with the Chartered Institute of Housing, Crisis, the Home Builders’ Federation, the National Housing Federation, and the Royal Institute of British Architects to put housing at the top of the political agenda by creating Homes for Britain.
Homes for Britain is a united voice for housing to put it at the top of the political agenda. However, within that voice are different needs and wants – all with the collective aim of raising standards in British housing.
The RLA is quite clear how the private rented sector can be improved, and five of the most effective ways would be:
Effective self-regulation not bureaucratic persecution
Eighty-five per cent of tenants in the private rented sector are satisfied with their homes, a higher figure than those in the social sector. The private rented sector is a good choice for those seeking a home. But it can be better, and the RLA wants it to be better. However, a mountain of red tape will not achieve this; effective industry self-regulation supported by clear national guidance will.
Tenant choice for Universal Credit direct rent payments
The RLA believes that Universal Credit is a noble idea, but it has its flaws. Tenants should be allowed to decide whether or not they have their housing benefit paid direct to their landlord, at the moment the proposals for Universal Credit do not allow this – with the potential for increased rent arrears and increased homelessness.
Shared housing (HMOs): Effective national planning policy not chaos created by 'localism'
The mantra of ‘localism’ is loud in Government, but some local authorities have taken their extra freedoms to mean more local regulation and bureaucracy. The result is a lottery postcode for the private rented sector, meaning differing demands and standards for landlords and tenants across the country. Instead of this chaos, the RLA believes effective national planning and regulatory policies should guide the PRS.
Green Deal: Encourage landlord investment
In essence, Green Deal will provide energy efficiency improvements with no up-front costs involved for landlords. Instead the costs will be linked to properties’ utility repayments – usually paid for by the tenant. The RLA fights for landlord choice to use Green Deal funds and for landlord tax allowances. The RLA leads an industry technical group to resolve property problems.
Taxation: Investment through capital gains tax relief and SIPPS
The key taxes levied on the PRS are income tax (or corporation tax for companies) on rental income and capital gains tax (CGT) when a property is sold. The PRS is at a disadvantage compared to other tenures as neither the social sector nor owner occupiers pay these. Much of the tax notionally paid by the landlord is in fact paid by the tenant as landlords set rents to allow for taxes. Self-Invested Pension Plans (SIPPs) should be allowed to buy residential accommodation for letting.This would help the less well-off obtain accommodation. This could be a short-term measure to stimulate the market. There is over £1 billion invested in over 800,000 SIPPs, of which 200,000 could potentially invest in the PRS.
“One home in six is now supplied by private landlords – a vital part of the diverse provision of UK housing. Homes in the private rented sector give over eight million tenants choice, affordability and, above all, the facility to move home easily with little legal process or cost, to follow careers and relationships. Furthermore, according to the latest English Housing Survey, 86 per cent of tenants are satisfied with their homes in the private rented sector.
“The Residential Landlords Association works to improve standards for landlords, their property and service to tenants through advice, information and training. We also represent the interests of the country’s 1.2m landlords to national and local government, supported by research and briefing papers.
“The RLA also works in partnership with other key organisations across the sector. As core partners of Homes for Britain we recognise that no single interest can resolve Britain’s housing issues, but our unified voices can demonstrate harmony across many areas. For this reason the launch of Homes for Britain marks a significant new strategic alliance, which can bring greater emphasis to the case for better investment, not just in the private rented sector, but all housing sectors.”
Chairman, Residential Landlords’ Association
Homes for Britain will be officially launched during the conference season, with a drinks reception at the Conservative Party Conference on Monday 8th October, in Hall 10b, ICC at 7.30pm.
Speakers include the new housing minister Mark Prisk, John Cridland (director-general, CBI), and Gary Porter (Conservative Leader, LGA). The reception will see a further 40 housing leaders present, and will also include a short video (above) outlining the aims and aspirations of Homes for Britain.
All RLA members attending the Conservative Party Conference are cordially invited to join us.
However, the Homes for Britain message also spreads across all three major party conferences, with a huge range of events supporting the Homes for Britain campaign:
It is time to move housing to centre stage this party conference season, so please join us.
For more information please visit www.homesforbritain.org.uk.