As the UK prepares to vote for its new government on Thursday 7th May, housing has become an increasingly key topic for the general election.
With 8.5 million tenants in the UK, the expanding private rented sector is set to be a major factor in the final count. Who, though, would tenants vote for?
A new survey by Upad reveals that one in four would back Labour. Indeed, the party, led by Ed Miliband, has announced a raft of policies targeted at tenants, including a cap on rental increases to keep them in line with inflation, the introduction of longer-term, three-year tenancies and a ban on letting agency fees.
The proposals have not been well received by the property industry, with agencies, portals and landlords warning that they could deter buy-to-let investors, which could leave the UK's rental market with fewer homes to cater for strong tenant demand.
Improving the rental sector was said to be the top issue for just over 20 per cent of Upad's respondents and was "very important" for nearly 52 per cent.
"Nearly three quarters of all the tenants in our survey clearly could be swayed by a party who defends their interests best," says James David, CEO of Upad.
Even though the message has reached some tenants, though, 40 per cent had "no opinion" on which party was best to serve them.
The respondents were largely made up of 25 to 35 year olds, with 35 to 44 year olds the next biggest groups. (Together they made up nearly 57 per cent of the sample, which reflects the national position.)
The main issue for the tenants was the cost of renting (50.1 per cent) followed by the quality of accommodation and agent fees in equal second (both 12 per cent). Then came high deposits (7.3 per cent) followed by a fear of future rent increases (3.1 per cent). But despite a lot of heat in the press during recently about revenge evictions and the regulations of landlords, both these issues figures weakly in the survey.
Indeed, only 20 per cent were primarily concerned with abolishing letting agent fees, while long-term, secure tenancies were only the number one concern for 9.6 per cent of respondents.
"What was most obvious from our research was how financially squeezed many tenants feel - time and again their answers showed that it was the high costs of renting, and the even higher costs of buying their first home, which most worries them," adds David.