A survey carried out by Upad, the online letting specialists, shows that around one in four tenants will be backing Labour in the election.
In order to take advantage of the approximately 9 million tenants’ voting power, party leader Ed Miliband announced a whole raft of policies aimed at placating tenants. These include an inflation fixed cap on rents, longer term tenancies, a national register of landlords and a ban on letting agency fees.
Given the increase in renting since the last general election alone, housing became a major issue in this one. But the big question Upad was interested in was, who, or more specifically, which party would tenants vote for?
Labour’s proposals for the private rented sector (PRS) have, on the whole, been greeted with hostility from those in the industry, with agents, property portals and landlord bodies warning that they could deter buy-to-let investors.
The polices would, many argue, do the exact opposite of what Labour intend, that is help tenants, but would in fact lead to an exodus of landlords, reducing the supply and choice for tenants. That in turn, they argue, would increase rents and hitting tenants the hardest.
Despite the fact that Labour’s message had reached some tenants, fully 40 per cent had “no opinion” on which party was best to serve them.
A top issue for tenants seems to have been “improving the rental sector” with over 20 per cent of Upad’s respondents, and was “very important” for nearly 52 per cent.
James Davis, CEO of Upad said: “Nearly three quarters of all the tenants in our survey clearly could be swayed by a party who defends their interests best.”
Respondents were in the main 25 to 35 year olds, with 35 to 44 year olds the next biggest cohort. Together these two groups made up almost 57 per cent of the sample, which Upad says reflects the national position.
A priority issue for tenants was the cost of renting (50.1 per cent) closely followed by the quality of accommodation. Agent fees came next in next at 12 per cent. High deposits came in at 7.3 per cent followed by a fear of future rent increases (3.1 per cent).
Upad commented though that despite a lot of negative press coverage of the PRS during the run up to the general election, particularly the “revenge eviction” and regulation of landlords issues, both these issues figured only very slightly in the survey.
Only 20 per cent of respondents seemed concerned with abolishing letting agent fees, while long-term tenancies were the concern of just 9.6 per cent of respondents.
In summing up, James Davis said:
“What was most obvious from our research was how financially squeezed many tenants feel – time and again their answers showed that it was the high costs of renting, and the even higher costs of buying their first home, which most worries them.”
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) May 7, 2015