Baroness Valentine wades in against landlords letting to benefits tenants!

by Dr Rosalind Beck

15:34 PM, 9th January 2018
About 3 years ago

Baroness Valentine wades in against landlords letting to benefits tenants!

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Baroness Valentine wades in against landlords letting to benefits tenants!

Baroness Valentine, a former banker and the wife of a venture capitalist, is the latest to have a go at private landlords (a common enough diversionary tactic to have a go at an unpopular group when you yourself are amongst the most privileged in society). In a debate on Industrial Strategy she made the following contribution:

Blackpool’s housing is an example of where amending unhelpful national policy could even save the Government money.

Blackpool has at its heart a private sector slum, fueled by public money.

Properties in wards such as Claremont and Revoe are largely privately owned and their occupants are on benefits.

From the landlords’ perspective, there is little incentive to keep the quality up but much incentive to house the maximum number of tenants with guaranteed housing benefit.

As a result, Blackpool attracts, and landlords advertise for, a disproportionate number of people with complex needs from all round the UK. At the crux of the problem is housing benefit paid according to a Whitehall formula which would not reflect the real market rate for such poor-quality housing.

Click Here to read the full comment.

Well, I have news for Baroness Valentine. In many areas of the UK, public money will pretty soon not be ‘fueling’ ‘private sector slums’ as she calls them, as landlords increasingly withdraw from this difficult market.

In her intervention, she makes some extraordinary points. Why, for instance, should she be against landlords housing people with complex needs? I would think the landlords would receive praise for this. I wouldn’t want to do it as the risk of rent arrears and damage to property would be higher. And, as we also all know, landlords cannot just let their properties go unmaintained, as she implies, as councils have significant powers to make sure landlords keep properties up to standard and it is in landlords’ interests to protect their asset and to retain decent tenants. Often, housing will be appear unmaintained, because the tenant is not maintaining it and can even be damaging it! So it is wrong to say landlords are the only people responsible for ill-maintained property.

We also all know that councils are desperate to access private sector housing for the people on their waiting lists, so slagging off the providers of this for daring to charge for the service is outrageous. I received a call just this morning from someone working for a Housing Association who said she has been charged by the Welsh Assembly with identifying and combating barriers to private landlords letting to those on benefits. I explained how Section 24 means landlords have to maximise rents to pay tax on fictitious profit (basically gathering more in rents to hand directly to the Exchequer), and how this and Universal Credit are pushing landlords away from this market. I pointed out how councils also are taxing landlords in the shape of costly licensing schemes, how councils and organisations like Shelter are not too proud to beg landlords to house people but then stick the knife in when those tenants turn rogue. She said that she personally could vouch for some of the people needing accommodation. I forgot to ask her to stand as guarantor! As I said to her, we landlords are asked to take risks, are told that these people will not default, but the ‘caring’ souls who advocate for them will not put their money where their mouth is and under-write this. And yet they are happy to ask us to take those risks.

There is going to be a rude awakening as gradually the likes of the Baroness and the others who slag off landlords for plugging the gap in the housing deficit and housing the poor, see that the number of people in the PRS receiving benefits decreases. The amount councils spend will of course get bigger however as the low-paid and unemployed will have to stay in more expensive hostels, caravans, tents – whatever the councils can come up with as the homelessness problem increases as a direct result of Government interference. Dealing with the knock-on societal consequences – disruption of family life, chaotic lifestyles, interrupted education and damaged life chances, mental health, drug and alcohol problems and so on – will also not come cheap.

So I advise Baroness Valentine and others who on the one hand beg landlords to house people and on the other, slag them off for doing so, to watch what they say as all they are doing is further damaging the chances of the poorer tenants to obtain housing. Landlords who move away from this market will be relieved to no longer be accused of ‘stealing’ tax-payers’ money by housing those in need. And those seeking to prove themselves as the champions of the poor will have to find another target for their vitriol.


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Comments

Whiteskifreak Surrey

15:39 PM, 13th January 2018
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Daniel at 12/01/2018 - 10:02
Excellent article Dr Ross, as always,
Chris Danie - I have seen that NLA have noted the 20% selling fact on their website. What is needed - Shelter should come to their senses and start talking to the Gov. They are the 'ultimate authority' in Gov's eyes and Gov just might start listening to the them.
I know - Dream on, nothing is going to happen...

Colin McNulty

5:08 AM, 14th January 2018
About 3 years ago

Anyone who thinks that rent from benefits tenants is "guaranteed" clearly has no real life knowledge of the sector!

terry sullivan

11:59 AM, 29th January 2018
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Whiteskifreak Surrey at 13/01/2018 - 15:39
shelter is a political organization like cp--neither should have charitable status

Old Mrs Landlord

14:46 PM, 29th January 2018
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by terry sullivan at 29/01/2018 - 11:59
At least Centrepoint do provide some interim accommodation and aren't endlessly lobbying against landlords in the press and elsewhere. Whether they also receive government funding as Shelter do I'm not sure. We need to discriminate: landlords complain about all being tarred with the same brush but we'll lose credibility if we do the same thing ourselves.

Chris @ Possession Friend

21:39 PM, 29th January 2018
About 3 years ago

Shelter are very much like the Government, spend millions talking about their Title / name but don't do any of it !

DALE ROBERTS

20:35 PM, 4th February 2018
About 3 years ago

I have a tenant in my property who lied about her tenant and employment history to gain access and she was still approved by a noted property agent. She hid the fact that she is a benefits recipient. She's now over 6 months in arrears, my unit has been trashed and I am pursuing an expensive eviction case against her which she is fighting. I am the third landlord she has treated in this manner. This will be her third eviction and CCJ.
UK data protection laws aid "professional" tenants. And frankly I'm not a charity. I don't want to be forced into providing "free" accommodation for a benefits cheat. I'd prefer my property remained empty.

Chris @ Possession Friend

23:10 PM, 4th February 2018
About 3 years ago

If the Reference check was negligent, see the case of -
'Hale versus Blue Sky Properties, 2016' -
where a letting agent didn't carry out an effective reference check and the Landlords losses were awarded against them.
PossessionFriend.uk

DALE ROBERTS

20:35 PM, 5th February 2018
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Daniel at 04/02/2018 - 23:10
The "reference" check was done by those crooks Oliver-Knights who conveniently shut shop and re-opened under a new company name. As the tenant was already in possession - eviction was my only alternative and she is stalling the process with every defense a professional tenant has in her arsenal. My story is not an unusual one. The industry is unregulated. It therefore attracts rogues.

Chris @ Possession Friend

23:20 PM, 5th February 2018
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by DALE ROBERTS at 05/02/2018 - 20:35
Letting Agents are legally required to be registered with one of the 3 government approved Property Redress schemes. If not, Trading Standards will prosecute.
An enquiry with the schemes and a complaint with the one their registered with now, if the new company is not registered, complain to Trading Standards, and to the Property Redress scheme that the same Directors are 're-registering ' with them.
Is the new 'outfit' registered with ARLA or UKALA ? - they should take a dim view and expel - or else be revealed for not doing so.
PossessionFriend.uk

DALE ROBERTS

10:42 AM, 6th February 2018
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Daniel at 05/02/2018 - 23:20
Oliver-Knights created enough of a scandal to warrant Action Fraud investigation, a TV expose and the very determined attention of Mr Paul Shamplina. Not only were Oliver-Knights reported to various regulatory bodies (including the police) but nothing was done to recoup embezzled funds nor was any action taken against the director/s and or staff They went rogue in the last year of operation. They were registered with the relevant government schemes and were underwritten by Hamilton Frasers. However, as the premiums to belong to these schemes were not paid in the last year of trade, I was told my claim could not be supported. The new company is ARLA approved.
The point is - that no matter how diligent or experienced landlords are - these type of frauds continue to flourish in the UK because the industry is unregulated. Justice for those so defrauded is non existent unless one has the tenacity and perseverance and funds to pursue the matter. And those are massive hurdles in themselves.

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