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Sales to long-term tenants could be answer

PUBLISHED: 08:00 28 October 2018

Julia Lopez was elected as Hornchurch & Upminster's locap MP at the 2017 General Election.

Julia Lopez was elected as Hornchurch & Upminster's locap MP at the 2017 General Election.

Archant

Housing has dominated my postbag as an issue since my election last year, as constituents share with me concerns abour rising rents, access to social homes or the ability of grown-up children to get on the housing ladder and stay close by.

Havering Council believes ones of the keys to addressing these concerns is to transform the borough’s ageing council estates. This time last year, I visited some of the new housing developments being led by the council in Cranham, Hornchurch and Harold Hill, where new, lifetime homes were being built on in-fill sites or replacing old garages and poor-quality housing.

The tenure was varied, from social-rented and shared-ownership homes to private ones, and the standard of the properties high.

After the visit, I made the case to ministers for the council to have more financial flexibility to deliver on its housing plans.

The prime minister has now announced the scrapping of the cap on councils’ Housing Revenue Accounts to give them that flexibility. While I do not wish to see additional burden on the public finances, I believe this move will ultimately alleviate financial pressure on councils as they reduce reliance on costly private-rented properties for social tenants and gain revenue from the new stock they have built.

Meanwhile, I am hopeful that an idea championed to me by a constituent to encourage the sale of properties from landlords to long-term tenants through tax incentives could be incorporated into this year’s Budget.

I have been championing this idea to Treasury ministers over the past year as I believe it would encourage stable, long-term tenancies, incentivise both tenants and landlords to behave correctly to one another, and increase home ownership.

We shall see whether this plan will be incorporated into this year’s Budget and I shall share any news with constituents if we make a breakthrough.

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