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The political party conference season usually springs a few surprises and it was those of us working in the property industry who this year were required to sit up and pay attention.
A raft of measures, predominantly focusing on the rental sector, were put forward and so here is an update for estate and letting agents.
Firstly, at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn put housing at the centre of his keynote speech. He took the slightly unexpected move of announcing that should his party wrestle leadership from the Conservatives, he would introduce rent controls in order to control the market.
Labour's plans for rent controls look - at the moment - to be designed for cities and urban areas, rather than the whole country.
Speaking after the conference, shadow housing minister John Healey said that there was a need to be 'able to balance the needs of renters with encouraging new housing supply in a way that suits local housing markets.'
He added that rent increases need to be moderated in urban areas where pressure is most 'acute'.
Proposing his vision for rent controls, Jeremy Corbyn said: “We will control rents - when the younger generation’s housing costs are three times more than those of their grandparents, that is not sustainable."
“Rent controls exist in many cities across the world and I want our cities to have those powers too and tenants to have those protections.”
Labour's plans have been widely criticised by property industry trade bodies such as ARLA Propertymark and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA). Interestingly, housing charity Shelter has also questioned whether the concept would work.
And so on to the Conservative Party conference, held in Manchester. Ahead of his speech, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid announced a number of measures for the private rental sector.
These include private landlords having to join letting agents in compulsory membership of a government-approved redress scheme, industry-wide regulation of letting agents, the introduction of long-term tenancies and a housing court.
The proposals - particularly letting agent regulation - have been widely welcomed by those in the property industry. ARLA Propertymark, for example, described regulation of agents as 'the single greatest step forward in a generation'.
The RLA, meanwhile, said the introduction of a housing court could 'speed up and improve access to justice for good tenants and landlords'.
What now? Well, all eyes will now be on next month’s Budget, where it is expected more details of the proposed measures will emerge.
Whatever happens next, it remains more important than ever for estate and letting agents to keep up with the latest industry regulation and compliance measures.
Here at Gnomen, we provide software and website solutions for estate and letting agents.
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