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Landlord groups hit out at plan from Labour Party to allow tenants to buy

Plans by the Labour Party which could see landlords in the private rented sector having to sell their properties to sitting tenants have been heavily criticised by the industry.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has described a radical scheme giving tenants the right to buy if the party gains power at the next general election. He said it could help millions of private tenants in the UK to buy their rented homes at a reasonable price.

The party is in favour of allowing workers, such as nurses and teachers who often cannot afford to buy, particularly in the more pricey South of the country, to buy the homes they live in and said that such a plan would also tackle what he called the ‘burgeoning buy to let market’ and problems of rogue landlords who do not maintain their properties.

He also suggested that the price paid by tenants who wanted to buy their home would not necessarily be the market price.

The National Landlords Association (NLA) has slammed the idea and said that the Labour Party seems to have a basic understanding of how the housing market works.

‘To suggest that private landlords should be selling their properties to their tenants at a below market rate arbitrarily set by politicians is ludicrous. Landlords had to pay market rates themselves. It’s only right that, if and when they decide to sell it, they can do so at market rates,’ said Chris Norris, director of policy and practice at the NLA.

‘If Labour does indeed wish to fix the housing crisis, they should focus on encouraging the Government to build more social housing, which is what the housing sector is lacking. John McDonnell’s assertions that landlords are looking for a quick buck and don’t maintain their properties shows a serious lack of knowledge about how the vast majority of landlords run their businesses. These good landlords should not be punished for the sins of the few who fail in their obligations to provide tenants with a decent home,’ he added.

The Residential Landlords Association also hit out. ‘Labour’s proposal would effectively kill off a large part of the private rented sector denying a home to many thousands of people,’ said David Smith, RLA policy director.

‘If there was to be any chance of this becoming law, there would be a mass sell-off of properties in advance. The RLA is all in favour of landlords selling to sitting tenants but it must be entirely voluntary. Anything else amounts to a form of compulsory purchase,’ he added.