Private Rented Sector

Part of Opposition Day — [2nd Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 1:07 pm on 25th June 2014.

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Photo of Nicholas Boles Nicholas Boles The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 1:07 pm, 25th June 2014

The hon. Lady will understand that obviously private owners of properties have some rights to decide who they let their property to, but I feel that it would be very strongly in the interests of all private landlords to work closely with people who are in receipt of local housing allowance and ensure that they too can access properties in the private market.

We will do nothing to undermine confidence in the long-term prospects of the rental market and drive away the institutional investors we need to expand the number of rental properties and improve their quality, but that would be the precise effect of the rent controls that the Leader of the Opposition proposes.

I hope hon. Members will forgive a brief foray into basic micro-economics, but I do think it is important in this debate. Owners of properties have a choice: they can either sell them and invest the money elsewhere, or rent them out. The more institutions we can persuade to invest in owning and renting property, the more options will be available to would-be tenants and the more likely it is that those who want longer tenancies with predictable rent reviews will be able to find landlords who are willing to offer them.

If, however, investors in rental property think that their costs may increase while their rents are capped, they will do one of two things: they will either insist on a much higher rent up front, increasing the costs tenants face, or they will decide to sell the property into today’s buoyant housing market and invest the money elsewhere. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton North East is a highly intelligent woman and a much better economist than I am. She knows that this is the reality of the rental market, so why has she come to the House today with such an obviously idiotic policy? There are reasons.