What Does the EU Referendum Mean for Private Renters?

09/06/2016 09:58

As a "disabled" privately renting female in London, you may think that I have one foot in and one foot out when it comes to the upcoming EU Referendum.

On the Bremain side, as a disabled female, the EU provides me with holiday pay, paid maternity leave, anti-discrimination laws and equal pay (debatable in some cases).

However, on the Brexit side, with imposed control on immigration having an impact on overseas investment, the nice flats will no longer be snapped up by foreign investors, meaning that I may someday be able to afford a house with a working toilet and less of a damp problem.

The Brexit campaign promotes the nightmare that EU nationals are the sole reason for driving up the cost of renting in the UK - particularly in London - which could be eradicated if we vote to leave the EU.
In a recent speech at the Vote Leave headquarters, Liam Fox is quoted in BBC News as confirming blame of the high cost of living - and the impact it is having upon young people - upon EU migration:

"Competition for rented accommodation obliges all those in the private rented sector to pay high rents which take a large share of income and makes saving to buy a home even harder.
These resulting high rents and a shortage of housing make it much more difficult for young people to set up home on their own so they have to spend more time in house shares or with their parents."

It is fair to say that competition makes a person greedy, and with demand within the capital for housing so high, young people are forced to take what they can get - regardless of the conditions - just to keep a roof over their heads.
It may also come as no surprise that renting prices in London are the highest in the EU (in fact, prices on average are double).

Therefore, if a drop in the number of EU nationals were to occur should Britain vote to leave, could this mean more affordable and sustainable housing for us British nationals?

Let us not forget however, that the government have never made housing a priority. In my opinion in fact, housing is at the bottom of their list, which was confirmed with the decision to reduce rent controls, giving landlords free reign to rent neglected properties to desperate renters. Furthermore, with extortionate deposit prices, people are forced into debt just to be able to get hold of the keys and thus - for some - begins the endless cycle of renting, as our wages are thrown to the wolves of lenders and landlords. Through the EU Referendum Campaigns, young people (do I still count as young, regardless of turning 30 next month?) are now being targeted by the government in order to encourage them to at least register to vote and have their say.

However, with £9,000 tuition fees, cuts to youth housing benefit, wage freezes and the fact that minimum wage increases don't apply to under twenty-fives anyway, there is no escaping the fact that the Conservatives are to blame for this. Not immigration. And with these sanctions already in place while a part of the EU, what on earth do they have in store for us once we leave?