Debate: Would a scheme encouraging landlords to sell to private renters help solve the housing crisis?

The Housing Crisis continues and so too does the debate about how to solve the housing crisis Britain faces.

Would a scheme encouraging landlords to sell to private renters help solve the housing crisis?

Will Tanner, director of Onward, says YES.

Britain’s housing market has many flaws, but one of its most pernicious is the never-ending treadmill of private renting. The average renter in London today spends 40 per cent of their post-tax income on rent, compared to 15 per cent in the 1980s, and does so for much longer on insecure tenancies.

For people below the age of 45, homeownership has become an unattainable dream, renting the insecure reality. Indeed, the number of 35-44 year olds renting has tripled in two decades.

By encouraging landlords to sell to long-term tenants, ministers could solve two key problems: they would encourage more landlords to offer longer-term tenancies, and support more renters into ownership. We propose that the tax break is shared between landlord and tenant, so the landlord is incentivised to sell and the tenant gets a significant contribution to the deposit. This will help them get off the treadmill and onto the ladder. That can only be a good thing.

Dan Wilson Craw, policy and communications manager for Generation Rent, says NO.

This policy might boost the number of homeowners by allowing tenants to negotiate a lower price from their landlord. But it will do nothing for the majority who have no deposit saved up.

While it has been pitched as a way to incentivise longer tenancies, if it’s ultimately optional for the landlord, not all tenants will benefit. If we want to improve renting, we must require all landlords to provide greater security, so that all tenants can expect a long-term home.

Tenants also need protection if their home is sold to someone else. If your landlord were eager to sell, and you couldn’t buy, you’d face eviction with no ability to appeal. Tenants should therefore get compensation – to create an incentive to sell with a sitting tenant, and minimise hardship.

The danger with sharing out tax breaks is that it suddenly gives better-off tenants a vested interest in rising local house prices. This would reduce voter pressure for more homes to bring down rents for the rest of us.

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