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Backing landlords is essential to securing election votes – Stanton

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  • 05/06/2024
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Backing landlords is essential to securing election votes – Stanton
After plenty of speculation, the date is finally set for the upcoming general election.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declared the country will go to the polls on Thursday 4 July – an announcement timed with the news that inflation has returned to “normal levels”. However, if we read into polling numbers, general sentiment and the sheer number of MPs choosing not to stand, it still looks set to be an uphill battle for the incumbent government. 

For landlords, however, the decision doesn’t yet seem to be so clear-cut.

In our latest landlord survey, we asked landlords to share their voting intentions and their thoughts on a potential change in government. Not only did it generate some interesting responses and real concerns, it identified the clear opportunity still available for all parties to secure the vote of landlords. 

 

Undecided landlords

Just over four in 10 landlords said they are still undecided on who to vote for in the upcoming election. Of those that are still unsure, the largest share was made up of those with portfolios of between four and 10 properties (35%). Landlords with 20-plus properties accounted for a quarter, while the majority of those undecided landlords (69%) operate within a limited company. 

For those who have made their decision, nearly a third (31%) said they will vote Conservative, while 12% will put their cross next to a Labour candidate. Just over 5% will vote for the Liberal Democrats, and 10% will choose another party.

At more than 40% of landlords, though, it is a considerable number who have not yet been swayed by a particular party. No matter which side of the floor a party sits on, there is clearly a valuable opportunity available to really engage with landlords, understand and address their issues and galvanise support from this sizeable base.

Given its position in the polls, this would surely be a no-brainer for the current government to try to shift the tide.

 

Anti-landlord concerns

After all, the same survey found that nearly half of landlords (48%) have concerns about a potential change in government. In particular, respondents described Labour as “anti-landlord” and said a potential government presents “too many unknowns” with regulation unlikely to decrease. 

A respondent said: “A Labour government will be traditionally landlord unfriendly. Conservative policies of recent years have also been far too punitive to landlords.” 

A clear narrative among respondents is that while Labour would bring a change of government if it won, it may not bring a change of policies or ideals, especially as it relates to the treatment of landlords, rental reforms and tax policy.

Another landlord said: “Everyone is anti-landlord. With a lack of affordable housing, we are the scapegoats. They have increased our tax and compliance burden.” 

It could very well be this lack of voice or representation, as well as similarities in policies and approach, that has left many landlords unsure where their vote should lie. In truth, it has also left some looking beyond the established main parties in the hopes of a solution.

There’s no question that landlords need further reassurance from Labour and its leader on its approach to policy – particularly as it relates to the sector, but also its plans for government.

Given the critical role that the private rental sector (PRS) plays in providing housing to millions of households, Sir Keir Starmer and Labour must make clear their plans on housing and how they plan to recognise the role of landlords and the PRS as essential housing providers.

 

Resilience of the sector

No matter who ends up with the keys to Number 10 following the election, it will inevitably be another event that buy-to-let (BTL) will successfully weather.

For decades, the sector has not just survived countless new governments and a myriad of political and economic crises, but it has continued to thrive.

There will always be concerns, of course – like many industries and sectors, we don’t know yet what a change in government will mean for central funding, infrastructure, policy or regulation. However, what we do know is that BTL is tremendously resilient and is supported by a whole range of lenders, including Landbay, who is ready and willing to lend and able to support the wealth of talented brokers in meeting a broad range of landlord requirements.

Let’s just hope a party strategist sees this research and sees the golden opportunity to win the landlords’ vote.

Backing landlords is not just a great way to secure votes; it’s essential to safeguard the future of our private rental sector and of UK housing. 

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