10:26 AM, 29th September 2023, About 2 months ago 11
So, we are into the party political conference season and it is apparent that the private rented sector (PRS) is not going to be discussed – even though the country is facing a ‘housing emergency’.
And rather than offer up a political manifesto of what landlords want – knowing that politicians will simply ignore it – here’s my offering on what landlords DON’T want.
That way I can tackle what plans are being conjured up without any discussion with landlords or letting agents.
It’s hard to believe, isn’t it?
Our political parties have different visions for the future of the PRS, but they all seem to agree on one thing: landlords are part of the problem, not the solution.
Landlords, who provide a vital service for millions of people who cannot or do not want to buy their own homes, are facing an unprecedented challenge from all sides.
It appears that we must adapt to the changing landscape or risk being squeezed out of the market.
First up are the loons of the (ill)Liberal (un)Democrats with a rash of barmy ideas that I had to read the Property118 story – Lib Dems want to introduce landlord licensing and rent controls – twice and then read the policy paper. I really wish I hadn’t.
They have the temerity to call this a ‘fair deal’ that will see landlord licensing and minimum standards being introduced.
Come again? Licensing for landlords? But not for tenants?
The default tenancy agreement length will rise from one year to three.
Why? If the system isn’t broke why fix it? Landlords will be stuck with rent rise restrictions and lumbered with tenants they can’t get rid of.
And I love the notion of ‘rent smoothing’ that they say will tackle the cost-of-living crisis.
Rent smoothing is another word for rent controls – which haven’t worked anywhere they have been introduced.
And they want to provide more power and resources to councils so they can tackle bad behaviour from tenants and landlords.
Errr, let’s see. Councils don’t believe that tenants create problems, so they won’t be ‘tackled’, only landlords. The relationship between landlord and tenant is a special one and politicians will just take one side.
We have seen with the diabolical selective and additional licensing schemes that councils love the money and the power they already have to destroy a landlord’s business.
They don’t need more power, they need less. Ban selective licensing schemes to deliver lower rents and improved housing standards.
And don’t get me started on councils having power over private landlords when council and social landlords don’t care about the standards of their own housing stock.
And then there’s this from the Lib Dems:
No, it’s really not. Try renting a house out and be startled at the amount of legislation we MUST comply with. Plus, bad landlords won’t comply under any circumstances (which is why selective licensing to ‘improve standards’ is simply an outright lie).
On the face of it, this isn’t such a bad idea. Again, criminal landlords won’t get involved, so why bother with the expense?
How about minimum standards for tenants? Like paying rent and not trashing a property? These standards will, apparently, solve the problem of damp and mould creating health issues in tenants. Without using capitals, how can I explain that this is not a problem created by landlords? We can’t point to tenant lifestyles, but that’s the big reason why.
Get stuffed. Scrapping section 21 to end ‘no-fault’ evictions is the wrong way to do this. They aren’t ‘no-fault’ evictions. I’m sick of saying this. There is always a reason. (And, for the most part, you don’t want to know that the tenant might be at fault).
Just watch us pack up and leave if section 21 is abolished and landlords can’t repossess their property – and the ensuing impact on the UK’s house prices.
I also cannot ignore the ‘manifesto’ from the landlords’ friends (not) at Shelter – the homelessness charity that doesn’t house anyone.
So, here’s a quick rundown of their ‘wants’ (You can probably guess if you haven’t already seen the Property118 story about what the Shelter manifesto contains).
I also laughed out loud at the notion that Shelter want to make ‘renting affordable’.
It is because of you clowns that tenants are seeing rent increases! Criticising and urging new laws for fed-up landlords means we leave, reducing supply and guess what? Rents rise as a result. Clueless.
And don’t moan about the PRS doubling in size over the last 20 years – that’s supply and demand.
And calling for ‘robust regulation’ of the PRS isn’t going to cut it either. There are more than enough laws covering what we do.
Looking to the upcoming conference season, we still have Labour and its unbelievable plans for a renters’ charter, which would include measures such as ending section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, introducing rent controls and creating a national landlord register.
The party claims that these reforms would give more security and affordability to tenants, but landlords will see their business undermined and be discouraged from investing in the sector.
The Conservatives have pledged to introduce the Renters (Reform) Bill, which would scrap section 21 evictions to create a fairer and more transparent rental market.
But we will effectively lose control over our properties and face more bureaucracy and regulation.
It is unbelievable to me that there are landlords in Parliament who are supporting this nonsense.
It also looks like the minimum energy performance certificate (EPC) ratings will also make a comeback with Labour and the Lib Dems.
Not for social housing or owner-occupied homes. Oh no, just the PRS because that’s where the energy waste is, apparently.
And let me reiterate that Labour are not the foregone winners of the next election.
Just look at last week’s opinion polls after Labour offered two policies that showed blue water between them and the Conservatives.
Their popularity took a dip.
So, let’s see what happens when the incredibly dull Starmer has to deliver his policies to a live audience, and the not-as-dull-as-Starmer-but-still-dull Rishi Sunak can counter them.
When people see what the impact of their housing policies will be, then we will have an election on our hands.
But without discussing the issue of immigration and the social housing selection criteria that puts someone with nowhere to live at the front of the queue, then things could get messy.
And despite all this, I’m left wondering why no-one fights our corner? Why don’t we have an input into these PRS plans?
Either the MPs don’t understand the importance of the PRS, or they just don’t care.
This fight for the soul of the PRS isn’t over – because it hasn’t really begun.
We need to stand up with one voice and let politicians and voters know what will happen if some of these wacky proposals are introduced.
The threat of a massive sell off of rented homes by fed up landlords struggling to make a profit, who can’t remove non-paying tenants and having their homes trashed needs to be organised.
It’s a big ask, I know, but we all need to create a united front and explain again and again that we aren’t here to be steamrollered and made poorer.
Because when we sell up and leave the politicians to the mess they have created, where will they house people?
Until next time,
The Landlord Crusader