Support, Advice and Experience within the Property Market

Housing Manifesto 2015: Recommendations for the housing market

From Robert Ulph on March 5, 2015

As I wrote in my last column, I have recently been involved in the NAEA and ARLA Housing Manifesto 2015 which provides the Government, among others, with an overview on and recommendations for the current housing market. Ultimately we need to take the politics out of housing. We know this is easier said than done. So instead we ask for all future parliamentarians to maintain a long-term progressive view and to deliver on the following commitments.

You can read the state of the housing market.

  • We need stability and a long term view. Bricks and other materials currently need to be ordered a year before a home can be built. We need skilled workers to ensure that properties are built well.
  • We need to cut red tape so that regulations are not so onerous and do not result in unaffordable housing as an unintended consequence. This does not mean building poor quality homes, just ensuring that the costs are reasonable.
  • Planning policy needs a radical rethink – we need to apply some common sense to ensure that planning policy does not make it easier to build in some regions over others and that local authorities work together more coherently.
  • Government must resist calls to commit tenants to compulsory three year leases. Our research shows that average tenancies last between 18 and 24 months. To do so would be a disincentive to tenants and landlords who both often require greater flexibility.
  • Letting agents hold a significant amount of money on behalf of the tenant and landlord and as such it should be compulsory for letting agents to be members of a client money protection scheme.
  • We want regulation to be tightened for the entire industry, and a more stringent licensing code created for everyone. Greater regulation for letting agents in particular will ensure fairness, a level playing field and the removal of those agents that bring the industry into disrepute.
  • We believe balance needs to be struck for all parties concerned. Government should resist calls to impose an outright ban on letting agents charging fees. The average fee charged by ARLA agents is £202, which covers a range of critical checks and ensures a smoother and more transparent transaction between agent, landlord and tenant. Banning fees could simply mean tenants facing higher rent.
  • Like other European countries, institutional investors should be encouraged into the residential property sector. Government research shows that only 2% of landlords have a portfolio of more than 10 properties and with 4 million tenants now living in the private rented sector, demand cannot be met.
  • Local authorities need to be able to effectively fine home owners who leave properties sitting empty, raising the severity of penalties the longer the property stays empty.
  • To help improve the quality of housing stock in general, the Government should commit to reduce VAT on housing renovation and repair.
  • A Mansion Tax should not be introduced, as many asset-rich and cash-poor homeowners may not have the ability to afford.
  • The private rented sector should be treated as an ‘entrepreneurial business activity’ for Capital Gains Tax purposes, allowing landlords to take advantage of the same level of roll-over relief available to other businesses when reinvesting in the sector and limiting CGT to gains released from a business as profit.

If you require any further advice or information please do not hesitate to email me.