Conservative and Labour proposals for the private rented sector have been criticised by landlord groups after both parties unveiled renter-centric pledges in their election manifestos.
Boris Johnson said a Conservative majority government would “empower” renters and give them “greater piece of mind”.
Should the party be returned to power in December’s election, the Tories would push forward with a plan to scrap Section 21.
The National Landlords Association (NLA) said the Conservative Party manifesto did nothing to encourage and support landlords to continue investing in the sector and would “punish hardworking and law-abiding landlords.”
Richard Lambert, CEO of the NLA, said: “The Conservatives claim that the changes announced in the manifesto will ‘create a fairer rental market’, but fairer for whom?
“To say that we are disappointed that the Conservatives have pledged to continue with their plan to abolish Section 21 is an understatement. Despite a robust lobbying campaign on behalf of the two million landlords in the UK, the Conservatives seem hell-bent on continuing to punish hardworking and law-abiding landlords.”
Lambert was also critical of the Tories’ plan to introduce a Lifetime Deposit scheme that would allow tenants to transfer their deposits when they move properties.
“We will reserve judgement on the so-called ’lifetime deposit’. The Conservatives has yet to confirm what this will look like or how this will work in practice,” he said.
Lambert continued: “The NLA cannot get behind a manifesto that so badly cripples landlords’ ability to run a functioning letting business.”
Labour’s manifesto, which includes the introduction of open-ended tenancies, the scrapping of Section 21 and new rent controls designed to restrict rent increases to inflation, was denounced as “too extreme” by the NLA who labelled it “unrealistic” and “hugely damaging”.
Under Labour’s MOT plans, landlords would be legally required to complete an independent annual inspection to ensure homes are up to scratch and landlords could be subjected to big fines for letting out sub-standard properties or flouting the rules.
Lambert said the Labour’s plans would punish “law-abiding landlords” and drive many to sell up.
“How will Labour ensure landlords who are already compliant don’t take the full brunt of these changes? Will they give housing enforcement the priority and the resources it desperately needs? Does Labour intend to reform the courts so that if a landlord needs to end a tenancy, it can be done quickly and efficiently to?
“Currently, what Labour proposes will force landlords to be more selective about the tenants they take on and will drive many from the market altogether.”
The Residential Landlords Association also slammed Labour’s proposals, claiming they would “lead to a serious rental housing crisis”.
David Smith, policy director for the landlords’ organisation, said: “These proposals have not been thought through.
“We have been at the forefront of wanting to drive criminal landlords out of the market, but to place such ill-thought out burdens on the majority of good landlords would lead to a serious rental housing crisis, which would only hurt tenants as they struggle to find a place to live.
“The sector does not need new obligations, but better enforcement of those that already exist.
“We hope that should Labour come to power they will work with us to bring in proposals that would better protect tenants against criminal landlords whilst still encouraging good landlords to invest in the supply that is needed to meet demand.”
Defending Labour’s policy proposals John Healey, Labour’s shadow housing secretary said: “When we say one in four are in poor condition, damp, cold, in disrepair or even unsafe – this is a market which is clearly failing, it requires a government to step in.”Housing charity Shelter welcomed both parties proposals to scrap Section 21.
Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said: “For decades renters have had to live with the fear of being evicted from their home for no reason, with damaging consequences particularly for families with children and the elderly.
“This election marks a major step forward in the battle to secure basic protections for those who rent, as Labour and the Conservatives have made clear that they will scrap this outrageous practice, and give renters the security and stability they deserve.”