Sadiq Khan’s housing tsar concept should be considered, according to automated rental payment provider PayProp.
The COO of PayProp, Neil Cobbold, believes: “Sadiq Khan’s call for an independent housing commissioner adds to the profile and diversity of the debate. Everyone agrees housing is in a mess, and we need a proper debate to address it.”
PayProp says that the Mayor of London’s proposal represents an interesting possibility ahead of the Conservative Party Conference, which begins on Sunday.
“The number of housing ministers over the past few years has been well documented, and a lack of continuity has contributed towards the broken housing market acknowledged by the Government,” believes Cobbold.
Back in June, Reading West MP Alok Sharma became the sixth Housing Minister to take the role since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.
“With 15 politicians taking the role of housing minister since 1997, it’s been hard for anyone to really get their feet under the table and make the required progress. And the fact that the housing minister is still not part of the cabinet certainly compounds this,” Cobbold comments. “That’s why we think the idea of a housing tsar, either in London or working on a national basis, deserves serious consideration. It could be one of the first steps towards improving the nation’s housing outlook and we would welcome a discussion on this issue during the upcoming party conference season.”
He suggests that a housing tsar could work across three specific issues – housebuilding, transparency and helping generation rent.
He explains that de-politicising delivery of housing could contribute to quicker and more efficient housebuilding, as well as improving transparency in both the sales and lettings sectors.
What’s more, generation rent could be helped by a housing tsar pushing more savings and buying initiatives, and an improved standard of rental accommodation for the growing number of long-term private tenants.
This is because an independent representative’s mandate would be solely focused on improving the housing system, rather than meeting differing party-political objectives.
Khan and Dorian Gonsalves, the Chief Executive of the UK’s largest franchise agency Belvoir, are just two of the high-profile figures to recently discuss the possible benefits of a housing tsar.
Khan’s call came after the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June, and is aimed at helping protect tenants’ interests. He wrote an open letter, suggesting that a housing tsar could act as a watchdog for social tenants, leaseholders and freeholders.
Gonsalves believes that a national housing tsar could work with experts and politicians from all parties, and make recommendations to the new Housing Minister. He insists that they would help to improve market stability.
Cobbold concludes: “If London can have a dedicated night tsar, we believe there is room for a housing tsar to help Alok Sharma implement the changes that are desperately needed to improve our housing market.”