Rent Freedom Day - videos now up

Feb 11, 2015 10:46 AM

If you couldn't make it to Rent Freedom Day, we have the next best thing - video of two of the biggest events on the schedule: the opening speech from journalist, author and fresh-faced firebrand Owen Jones (20 mins), and the National Renters Hustings (1h15m).

MPs from four main parties came together for the first time in the real world to debate renting and face questions from the public. Conservative Mark Pawsey, Labour's Emma Reynolds, Lib Dem Minister Stephen Williams and the Greens' Caroline Lucas all bravely faced an audience that has long been overlooked by politicians and wants answers. UKIP was invited but didn't send anyone.

A few observations from us:

  • All four disagreed in different ways on rent controls - the Greens are planning a living rent commission to do more than simply limit rent rises, which is what Labour are setting out to do. Emma takes care not to actually call it "rent control" which might deter investment. Mark is wholly opposed but the minister went so far as to call it "a short term fix", which is presumably better than no fix at all.
  • We have some concerns about the caveats to Labour's secure tenancy policy where landlords could exploit their ability to take possession on the basis of moving back in by re-letting the property back out soon after. It strikes us that the national landlord register, which Labour also promises, could help solve this, but this needs to be articulated.
  • The Greens would like to scrap the mortgage interest tax relief for landlords - and Stephen admitted he was personally sceptical of its value, and hinted at a Lib Dem announcement on the subject.
  • There was acknowledgement by both Mark and Caroline that the green belt would be needed to accommodate new houses - at least Caroline refused to rule it out.

Ultimately, you should judge for yourself: