Almost a third of MPs are now landlords, and it’s a trend that’s concerning some.
The House of Landlords?
Recent government policy hasn’t been too kind on the buy-to-let community, two landlords even going so far as to threaten legal action against the Chancellor. Whether or not they’ll be successful remains to be seen, but judging by recent research conducted by the Guardian perhaps they’ll have some political backing.
According to the newspaper’s digging, almost a third of MPs rent out houses or flats - a total of 196 declaring rental income on the official register of interests this year. Conservative MPs make up the bulk of landlords with 128 renting out property, whilst the Labour party contains under half of that with 50 landlord MPs. The SNP, meanwhile, has 14 landlords amongst their ranks, with the rest of the political parties carrying one apiece.
Unignorable figures, they’ve lead some to question these ministers political integrity.
A vexing vote
The release of the Guardian’s research coincided with a ballot on the government’s housing and planning bill, Conservative MPs voting on an amendment made by the Labour party. Up for contention was a move to make all rental homes ‘fit for human habitation’ but Conservative MPs rejected this by 312 votes to 219 - a majority of 93.
Labour politicians were obviously outraged:
Beggars belief but today Govt voted against an amendment requiring landlords to make their properties fit for human habitation #HousingBill— Matthew Pennycook MP (@mtpennycook) January 12, 2016
Tory MPs today voted down a rule that would have forced landlords to ensure their properties were fit for human habitation,failing tenants— Angela Rayner MP (@AngelaRayner) January 12, 2016
Whilst some journalists went much further:
The government’s biggest critics suggesting that MPs property interests influenced the way they voted. Fighting back, a number of Conservatives have defended their party’s position, pointing to the risk that more regulation could ‘push up rents’. Marcus Jones - MP for Nuneaton - was amongst those to speak out, arguing:
“New clause 52 would result in unnecessary regulation and cost to landlords which would deter further investment and push up rents for tenants.
“Of course we believe that all homes should be of a decent standard and all tenants should have a safe place to live regardless of tenure, but local authorities already have strong and effective powers to deal with poor quality and safe accommodation and we expect them to use them.”
Make of that what you will. Considering this government’s recent track record in buy-to-let, however, perhaps there isn’t as much to this story this as there seems. In light of the Guardian’s recent research though, it’s understandable why some might view this vote a little suspiciously…
What do you make of the increase of landlords in parliament? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.