Robert Swift

party: Liberal Democrats
constituency: Gedling

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Recent polling show that people support rent control by a margin of nine to one. Do you support a rent control that limits rent rises between tenancies as well as during tenancies?

organisation: Generation Rent

This is a good proposal in principle, however I fear it would lead to a short term spike in rents just before the policy came into practice. I lived in Dubai where the government tried to apply such a policy (RERA legislation) and this was the result.

The standards of goods and services that are essential, such as food and water, are generally highly regulated. Do you support enforced minimum standards in housing as a precondition of a renting?

organisation: Generation Rent

I definitely support this. Note that legislation already exists around Electrical and Gas safety. Many or most private landlords are conscientuous and spend a lot of money to bring properties up to a higher standard than the ones they live in themselves. Letting agencies likewise (the better ones anyway) require proof of such before offering a property for rent. There is scope to extend standards regulation to things like insulation and energy efficiency (i.e. cost of heating).

Governments implement policies that directly and indirectly impact on house prices. Do you think house prices are too high?

organisation: Generation Rent

House prices in my constituency (Gedling) have actually fallen by 30% since 2007. The problem here is less the price but more the problem of how to get the deposit together or obtain a mortgage. LibDem policies such as help-to-buy loans and the new help-to-buy ISA are designed to help with this.

Private sector landlords receive over £27bn a year in housing benefit and tax breaks. Would you support a rent tax that recouped up to a third of this to fund new housing supply?

organisation: Generation Rent

No, I would not support this. Private landlords already pay income tax on the what they receive in rent. An additional rent tax could make buying and letting uneconomical, which would just reduce supply. There are a lot of houses sitting empty going to ruin. We don't need more. We need to help and incetivize private landlords to take on the risk and add these houses to the supply. Private landlords are an important part of the solution to the housing shortage.