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Disgruntled renters to ‘greatly influence’ next general election, according to poll

As housing becomes one of the most important issues to the electorate, elections will be greatly influenced by disgruntled private renters, according to a poll from AXA insurance.

Their survey of 2000 tenants found that 69% of renters would vote if a snap general election was called, compared with 53% when they conducted the same survey last year.

AXA believe an ‘epidemic of financial anxiety’ amongst renters is fuelling this greater political engagement, with 72% of private renters suffering from financial anxiety (defined as affecting their sleep, relationships or health).

59% of respondents say their biggest reason for worry is their inability to save for a deposit for their own home.

‘We’ve recently seen a flurry of legislation aimed at the private rental market,’ said Gareth Howell, Executive Managing Director, AXA Insurance.

‘Landlords are responding to it, as our research over the past four years shows rapid improvements in energy efficiency and some (but far from enough) raising of safety standards.

‘Tenants are set to be an increasingly powerful voice in our society, making finding innovative financial solutions a political imperative in future years,’ he added.

The survey also revealed that two-thirds of tenants aged under 35 say they are considering cheaper alternatives to renting such as moving back in with their parents or moving to a ‘non-traditional’ property such as a motorhome or narrowboat.

When asked what solutions could help improve the situation for renters, 69% said there should be rent controls and 8% said taxes should be raised for private landlords.

The Government’s Tenant Fee Bill is currently going through Parliament and is expected to pass into law during the second half of 2019. It will put a cap on the amount landlord’s can charge for a deposit as well as banning excessive administration charges from estate agents.

It is rumoured that the Government are considering scrapping mandatory 3-year tenancies, which had formed part of the bill.

At the Labour Party conference last month, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey said the Government’s ‘free market dogma’ meant Tory Ministers are incapable of fixing the housing crisis.

‘Labour will back private renters with longer tenancies and controls on rents,’ he added.

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter

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