Labour plans welcome rogue landlord crackdown but needs to also focus on building new rented homes

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Ed “Wallace” Milliband desperately searching for policies to copy.

Calls for a national crackdown on rogue landlords have been welcomed this week as property chiefs pressed Labour over the need to focus on delivering vital new homes for rent to deal with both quality and supply issues.

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The Labour policy review, published on Tuesday, calls for a national register of private landlords as well as far more stringent regulation in an effort to drive up standards in the private rented sector.

Shadow ministers said they would consider how compliance could be monitored – potentially through a regulatory body – introducing tougher sanctions, including the potential to strike off criminal landlords.

Property industry calls for proper regulation of estate and letting agents who deal with vast sums of cash each year have fallen on deaf ears across all three major parties.

But moves to encourage more professional landlords would raise the bar of quality solving both the problem of housing supply and standards.

Essential Living, the first institutionally backed UK firm designing, developing and managing homes to rent, has responded warmly to the Opposition’s recommendations, agreeing that the fragmented nature of the private rented sector and lack of reprisals was fuelling a culture of poor standards for consumers.

However, they have also urged Labour to focus more urgently on the wider issue of getting rental developments higher up council priority lists. Many new developments are sold abroad for prices well beyond what typical workers can afford, so providing a greater supply of rented homes that are affordable to young professionals would greatly enhance the housing market.

At the same time, it would also create developments in which investors had genuine long term interests – rather than typical ‘build to sell’ developments that are sold off after completion.

Essential living has $500m backing from M3 Capital Partners to deliver 5,000 rented homes across London and the South East over 10 years. Together with growing investment from housing associations and other private developers, by creating the right planning environment for developments to come forward, politicians can help enhance delivery of new homes.

The firm has so far acquired Berkshire House in Maidenhead, Kent, 100 Avenue Road in Swiss Cottage, the Helix building in Canary Wharf and, most recently, two warehouses on Three Colts Lane in Bethnal Green.

Darryl Flay, chief executive of Essential Living, said:

“Labour’s support for renting is welcome and measures to address rogue landlords will be a vote winner. But what will win more votes will be delivering a greater number of better quality homes – which we and other developers are well placed to do.

“The Opposition has recognised the value of quality rented homes – especially given the continued growth in house prices. We look forward to sharing ideas around how we can support policies which mean rental developments are better understood by councils and policy-markers.”

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