In Conversation With… Liz Peace
October 1, 2013
There’s a plethora of leading figures in the property, investment, finance and charity sectors who we’re regularly in conversation with, many of whom are guest authors for PRSupdate – and here we share more about them, their roles, priorities and backgrounds. If you would like to feature in this series, or to suggest someone who might, please get in touch through our contact us page or let us know on twitter.
Why not take a lucky dip into our In Conversation archives and discover:
- Stuart Corbyn, Chairman of Qatari Diar Delancey, East Village Operations
- Susan Fitz-Gibbon, Chief Executive, British Property Federation
- Mark Weedon, Head of Residential and UK Alternative Real Estate at IPD (Investment Property Databank)
Today we speak with Liz Peace, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
I spent most of my working life as a civil servant in the MOD but after 10 very happy years helping to turn their research establishments into a commercial entity, decided to try life on the outside. I had always liked buildings so when the BPF job came along it seemed to be a perfect fit.
For those who may not know, can you briefly explain what the BPF does?
Our main task in the BPF is to promote the interest of the property industry to Government and other bodies who make the rules and regulations which govern how we function. Injudicious legislation can hugely impact on the industry’s ability to deliver the offices and homes that the country needs and it is our job to make sure the Government understands that before it decides to go down any particular road.
The PRS has come under increased scrutiny in the last year. Do you believe it is focused on the correct areas for the benefit of the sector or greater political benefit?
Our interest in the PRS has been largely focussed on encouraging institutional levels of investment so that we can build greater scale and provide a highly professional, commercial proposition – which will benefit those in need of a good quality home, and also make some decent returns for the people who are investing our savings. One of the Government’s principal priorities is to provide more homes to meet the large current deficit – so they will benefit from what we are trying to do as well.
What are your thoughts on the Newham Licensing scheme and its potential impact on the PRS if it was to be rolled out nationwide?
The problem with regulation is that only the good guys (who are our members) adhere to it and all the bad guys continue to get away with murder. So if it is to be at all effective, then it needs to be rigorously enforced. What Newham is doing in terms of enforcement should therefore be welcomed since it will drive the bad guys out of business.
Would increased regulation, such as compulsory membership to a government body, benefit the sector?
As I have said above, increased regulation/compulsory membership only works if it is properly enforced. So there is definitely a case for having less – but making it work properly. And we definitely don’t want a whole new raft of regulation if it’s just a case of making the politicians feel better!
Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity that has started to shift into political lobbying against letting agencies, has called for a ban on letting fees. What would the pros and cons be if this succeeded?
We have always supported the regulation of letting agents since whilst there are undoubtedly some good ones out there, it is also an area where there are plenty of examples of bad practice. We wouldn’t support the wholesale abolition of letting fees but there is a need for greater transparency and that would no doubt come through a system of proper regulation.
What are currently the greatest challenges facing the PRS?
Getting enough stock of the right quality and proving that letting of residential really does deliver an acceptable level of returns.
Finally, do you have a favourite London landmark?
I have always loved Admiralty Arch – and actually used to live there once upon a time when I was a duty officer for the Royal Navy. Perhaps I’ll get to sleep in my old rooms again once it is turned into a hotel!