Tim Lowe, Founder of LOWE, says that housing needs to be at the top of every political agenda but with realistic targets and not overpromises of action that simply cannot be delivered.
“We are in a serious housing crisis, and have been for some time. Whoever takes over the helm next week has a tough job ahead of them for many reasons, but housing absolutely needs to be at the top of the political agenda for both affordability for first time buyers as well as those in the private rented sector.
“All the major parties are pledging to build a substantial volume of new homes every year. But this just isn’t a realistic promise. As usual, there is a huge gap between the Government’s target and reality and something must be done about it to address the growing and changing needs of communities across the UK.
“The truth is that construction has slowed to a snail’s pace over the last few years thanks to the uncertainty shadow of Brexit and strict planning restrictions that are delaying progress of new builds. Yet there are currently over 200,000 empty buildings across the UK, many owned by local authorities, which could be put to far better use by using guardianship schemes to provide affordable and comfortable accommodation. It might not be a long-term solution, but in the short-term using existing buildings provides a huge relief.”
Private Rented Sector
“Mooted moves to implement rent controls could have a negative impact on the supply of housing to the private rental market and would deter developers from building homes that were specifically earmarked for BTR. It’s a case of it being a nice idea and a step forward but it wouldn’t help supply at all.
“What is a positive move, however, are the promises to implement much tighter regulation to protect the interests of renters up and down the UK. Enforcing strict policies that clearly outline the minimum standards for rental properties would finally put renters’ minds at ease knowing that they are protected from rogue landlords.
“We see this happening first-hand with guardians coming to us having been evicted from their rented property unnecessarily or paying high rents for sub-standard accommodation where landlords are not taking care of their properties and failing to meet basic health and safety requirements. It’s simply not good enough and it needs to stop. Landlord licencing and the associated sanctions are a huge, but long overdue, necessity and would provide a massive layer of protection for renters who fall victim to scam landlords.”