Will Labour win the next election thanks to the private rental sector?

A new analysis by campaigning housing organisation Shelter claims the changes within the private rental sector could indirectly lose the next election for the Conservatives and win it for Labour.

The charity says that much of the increase in the size of the private rental sector - which is likely to be similar to the size of the mortgaged owner occupied sector by 2022 - is amongst younger demographic groups aged 44 and below. 

Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive, has told the Huffington Post: “In recent years the number of families renting privately has soared, meaning political parties can no longer afford to be tone deaf to the needs of renters and listen only to homeowners.

“It is vital for renters that this government bans letting fees properly, without leaving the back door open to agents to continue charging. It’s their main pledge to renters and if they get it wrong they might well feel the consequences at the ballot box in years to come.”

The Huff Post says new government data reveals that the proportion of the population in private rented housing increased for every age group between 2007 and 2017, with the exception of the predominantly Conservative-voting over 65s. 

“As well as the 35 to 44 age group going from 13 per cent to 26 per cent, the share of those aged between 45 and 54 in the private rented sector went from eight per cent to 14 per cent, and the 55 to 64 age group went up by three points to nine per cent over the same period” the site claims.

It suggests that if current trends continue, 23 per cent of voters could be living in privately rented homes by 2022 - the date of the next election - with 24 per cent in owner-occupied homes with a mortgage.

Data from the British Election survey shows that in 2017 voter turnout was significantly higher among 35 to 44 year olds than 25 to 34 year olds - that is, 69 per cent against 56 per cent. 

The article also quotes Clark Barrett, director of the pro-tenant organisation Rentersa Alliance, warning that the fees ban was not the only important policy.

“The main problem we see is not the letting fees, it’s poor service, it’s deposits not being returned, it’s repairs not being done. Banning letting fees will just see landlords pass on the cost to the renter by taking more of the deposit at the end of the tenancy” he says.

“It’s a systemic problem, and the real issue is the shortage of good properties in the rented sector.”

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