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Stability, affordability and quality key to successful future of the Private Rental Sector, delegates told at Winckworth Sherwood conference

Thu 10 Oct 2013

Shadow Housing minister Emma Reynolds at her first speaking engagement in her new role addressed Winckworth Sherwood’s Private Rented Sector conference today (10 October) and identified stability, affordability and the quality of homes as being the key to growing the Private Rented Sector. Ms Reynolds also hinted at where policy will focus for a future Labour Government in tackling the unpredictability of rising rents and the insecurity of short-term leases, which can be linked to wider social issues, especially for children and their parents.

Ms Reynolds also set out:

  • The need for 200,000 homes to be built before the end of the next parliament.
  • The requirement for stable homes, as the impact on children living in the rented sector and having to move frequently is a factor for those who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs).
  • More certainty for landlords who are more likely to benefit financially from stable tenancies.

Ms Reynolds also hinted the Labour party:

  • Is looking closely at the mortgage industry and the mortgage products that don’t allow landlords to give longer tenancies.
  • Considering the issue of rent increases and the effect on those with already squeezed wages.
  • Reviewing the charges for tenants made by letting agents and those that they consider to be unfair to ensure tenants are not ‘ripped off’.
  • They will consider incentivising landlords to sign up to minimum standards for property.

Ms Reynolds joined a number of experts from the industry today, (Thursday 10 October) to debate the future of the sector and to listen to opinions to help shape future policy.

Karen Cooksley Partner and Head of Planning at Winckworth Sherwood comments: “There needs to be a cultural shift in the UK, as in the past all political parties have focused on owner occupation in the housing sector and on the aspiration to own a home. A message for the future will need to focus on people haven’t failed if they choose to rent, or if they cannot afford to rent. There are many more people in the rental sector than there were ten years ago so this cannot be ignored.”

Other speakers at the conference included Ravinder Walia from the Department for Communities and Local Government and Head of the high profile DCLG Build to Rent Fund who focused on the financial backing for the PRS to encourage new building and the ambition to increase the size of the PRS to around 32% of housing stock across the UK.

Mr Walia also hinted that there might be further announcements made by the Government before the end of the year on the various funding schemes, which are in place already. He also focused on the need to create a more stable environment for funders to give them the confidence to invest in the sector where banks are not yet prepared to invest.

Karen Cooksley concludes: “The conference has brought together many experts and it was encouraging in particular that the new shadow minister was keen to listen to their views and that the PRS sector as a whole is the focus of attention to find solutions to drive it forward to address many acute needs.”

Other speakers this morning were:

Scott Hammond, Managing Director of Essential Living
Neil Haddon, CEO, Genesis Housing Association
Russell Pedley, Assael Architecture

Speaking this afternoon:

Liz Peace, CEO British Property Federation
Rosemary Bell, Bell Management Associates
Ian Merrick, Operations Manager of Essential Living
Robin Priest, Managing Director, Alvarez and Marsal Real Estate Advisory Services
Andrew Pratt, Patrizia Immobilien

To find out more about the Winckworth Sherwood PRS Conference and to download presenations from speakers as well as the conference programme, please click here.

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