Labour’s proposals will backfire

LETTER OF THE DAY: Underlying the housing crisis is the rocketing price of building land

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Labour Party proposals designed to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords and agents are set to backfire - resulting in higher rents and a dramatic drop in quality rented housing.

That’s the stark warning from Belvoir, one of the UK’s largest lettings agencies, that is rapidly gathering support in a campaign to inform MPs and tenants about the flawed policies being put forward by the current Opposition party.

Belvoir, which has more than 150 offices nationwide, including offices in Southsea and Waterlooville, manages a portfolio of over 30,000 properties.

It says that Labour’s controversial proposals, which include the banning of tenancy fees, introduction of rental caps and statutory long term rental agreements, will only help rogue landlords and agents to introduce higher rents ‘by the back door’.

‘The truth is that each and every day professional, responsible and reputable agents, who charge a reasonable and proportionate fee for the services they provide, actually SAVE tenants money,’ says Dorian Gonsalves, Commercial Director at Belvoir.

‘Those agents who don’t follow the rules - and there are still a lot of them out there – may appear to be cheaper by offering a ‘cut price’ service, but in many cases this service could be inadequate and fail in meeting certain legal requirements that could prove costly for both landlords and tenants in the longer term.

‘Self-regulating agencies, such as Belvoir, provide high levels of service, expertise and objectivity when managing landlord/client relationships and we ensure that tenants’ interests are always safeguarded and protected – particularly when dealing with issues such as maintenance or breakage costs and end of tenancy agreements.’

Labour is also proposing the introduction of capped rental increases and yet the majority of landlords have not increased rent levels at all since 2008.

‘However, if interest rates rise – as they are widely predicted to do – a cap on rents could have a real negative impact on many landlords, who could be forced to sell off their property portfolios, thereby reducing even further much need stock of private rented properties,’ added Dorian.

Paul Cartwright, who owns the Belvoir offices on Palmerston Road in Southsea and on London Road in Waterlooville, says: ‘As a company that is consistently recognised and awarded top honours by the UK’s property industry for our professional and ethical approach, we have taken a lead in contacting MPs throughout each region to make them fully aware of the benefits and high levels of protection that professional, self-regulating agents provide to tenant clients.

‘We intend to fight Labour’s proposals in order to protect tenants from falling prey to many of the rogue landlords and agents which, sadly, still exist. We believe these proposed policies are unworkable, not properly thought through and ultimately will only harm the interests of housing tenants.

‘It’s a message that we want all existing or prospective tenants to hear and many of our offices are already receiving a very positive response from their local MPs, keen to understand more in depth about these important issues.’

Dorian Gonsalves added: ‘Belvoir, along with all other reputable agents, wants to see Government bring in regulation for the entire sector - but it is essential that we, along with other professional bodies, are given the opportunity to help shape the future of such regulation so that both tenants and landlords can be assured of a high quality and transparent service in the future.’