A prominent Conservative supporter and expert in the private rental sector has posed an interesting question - is Boris Johnson trying to push landlords into selling up and thus fulfil his pledge to create a ‘Generation Buy’?
Dr Rosalind Beck - a well known advocate of the rental sector, a doctor of Criminology and a Conservative Party member in South Wales - poses the question in an article on the influential Conservative Home website.
Johnson recently announced that he wanted to turn young renters into young buyers by encouraging 95 per cent mortgages for up to two million first-time buyers - many of which have been ‘resentful’ tenants in his opinion.
Beck questions whether many current tenants would be in a position to purchase even if there was widespread mortgage availability, and then goes on the attack about the government “consistently damaged and misguided policies” towards the private rental sector.
She says that judging from the Prime Minister’s recent comments “the grand plan is to drive landlords into evicting their tenants in order to sell.”
Beck believes the most vulnerable tenants in such a strategy would be those in low cost smaller homes, who - if evicted - would likely have to be housed by the social housing sector which successive governments have run down in size and funding.
“The majority of these would not be in a position to buy; they couldn’t save a five per cent deposit, they wouldn’t meet mortgage criteria, millions rely on benefits, are on low pay, have a poor credit rating, are foreign nationals, or are of an age which would disqualify them” insists Beck, who says “home ownership is not on their radar.”
She then ridicules the idea of evicting existing private tenants and selling because the government itself has made it harder for landlords to sell up.
Referring to the current eviction restrictions, Beck continues: “The government has extended even non-payers’ rights to remain for up to two years in properties which therefore cannot be sold with vacant possession.”
The conclusion of Beck’s piece is given over to the emotive hyperbole used by Johnson and others to describe the virtues of buying over renting.
“Emotive language … is not unusual in housing discussions, of course, with Boris Johnson saying it is ‘disgraceful’ that people can’t buy their own homes. This was a curious word to use and, looking it up, I found one definition of ‘disgraceful’ is ‘scandalous behaviour’” she writes.
“Who exactly has behaved scandalously? Developers for not building enough homes? Why should they? Or is it private landlords for the crime of meeting the housing needs of more than nine million people by financing new-builds and buying old housing stock to refurbish for rent, while the government took a back seat? If the Government wants to blame anyone, it can start with itself.”
You can read the piece in full here.