Expert Panel Unanimous on Future Optimism in UK Housing Market14:17 PM, 26th March 2019
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Thank you for showing an interest in The Landlords Union.
Our view is that the Private Rented Sector desperately needs to unite and do more to fight for its rights and for its survival.
By the time you reach the end of this overview document we hope that you will be sufficiently inspired to become more involved.
Supporting the Private Rented Sector will help the solve homeless and the housing crisis more than any charity ever could.
In short, WE NEED YOU!
We believe the Private Rented Sector could be much better represented in regards to public image. We also believe:-
The Private Rented Sector has increasingly filled the gap in U.K. Housing provision since the late 1980’s. That is when social housing provision began to reduce due to the introduction of ‘Right to Buy’. It is also the point at which home ownership started to become increasingly unpopular due to boom and bust economies and changing working conditions demanding increased mobility.
Nevertheless, the U.K. is suffering a housing crisis despite the success of ‘buy to let’ off the back of the changes in the housing act 1988, which encouraged private investment. This is simply because no UK Government since WW2 has been able to facilitate the supply and demand issues for affordable housing.
Government propaganda now attempts to lay the blame with private housing providers for the housing crisis. Instead of rewarding their success, Government now threatens their very existence.
There are many housing charities fighting to reduce homelessness, but what are they doing to help the actual providers of private housing? Their lobbying for increased regulation is doing more harm in terms of suppressing motives for investment.
In our opinion, increasing supply to the point where it exceeds demand is the only logical way to control both quality and price.
The PRS houses more people than Social Housing, but it is the latter which ends more tenancies by evicting tenants.
Only 7% of tenancies are ended by private landlords. No landlord ends a tenancy for fun, that would be ludicrous. Tenancies are only ended by private landlords for four main reasons: 1) the property needs to be sold or , 2) the existing tenants can no longer afford to pay the market rent or 3) the terms of the tenancy have been breached or 4) the owner or his/her family wants to move back into the property. Private landlords are NOT the cause of homelessness, they are part of the solution.
There are currently 150 Lifetime Members of The Landlords Union, each of which paid £600 into a fund to get us started. This means we have collected £90,000.
We donated £15,000 of this to Axe The Tenant Tax campaign in 2016.
We have spent around £15,000 on systems, logo’s, exhibitions stands, leaflets and associated expenses.
Unrecoverable legal fees to date amount to around £10,000 which leaves a fighting fund at just over £50,000.
To date, the fighting fund has been used to assist in the seed funding of Private Criminal Prosecutions where 15 or more victims fraud are prepared to work with us. Cases to date have been where letting agents have fraudulently dipped into client money before their businesses have gone bust. Sadly, even though it is often very clear to victims that a financial crime has been committed, the Police and the CPS often don’t have the resources and specialist knowledge required to prosecute.
The initial legal and investigation work to get Private Criminal Prosecution cases to a Magistrates Court has to be paid for. However, if Magistrates agree that it is in the public interests for a case to be heard by a Jury the Crown then picks up all costs regardless of whether a guilty verdict is reached or not. It makes sense for us to back cases of this nature because we can recycle the funds if we pick the right cases. Our Hon. Legal Counsel also specialises in this type of work.
We have funded a few such cases, none of which have needed to go so far as a Court caset. This is because the people facing trial have settled with all the people represented by our legal action and have paid all legal fees to that point. They do this on the basis of a Non-Disclosure Agreement being signed and on the condition that witness statements are withdrawn. Naturally, most will do whatever they can to avoid a criminal record and a possible prison sentence. The outcome is that without witnesses the case cannot proceed and we cannot publicise the details due to the NDA. Nevertheless, the positive that comes out of these cases is that at least some landlords and tenants do get their money back. Eventually, word will get around that we get these results despite the NDA’s and given time a case will be heard in the Courts and result in massive press interest. This will hopefully lead to less crimes and more victims of such crimes joining The Landlords Union with a view us helping them to get retribution.
Another example of a case we came across very recently, and would liked to have the human resources to be able to fight, is where Police smashed in a door of a landlords property and then called the landlord to ask him to pay for the damage. His point was; why didn’t they call him first and he would have let them in? It gets worse though. The landlord gave the Police the details of the electronic door locks on all of his properties so that the same thing would never need to happen again. Two days later he got another call from the Police to say that they have smashed his door down again and could he come and mend it!
We need to fight these cases and to publicise them. We also need to make examples of when Police refuse to prosecute tenants who cause huge amounts of criminal damage to landlords properties. The general public need to see both sides. At the moment the public only get to see on TV and read about the anti-landlord propaganda Generation Rent, money hungry Councils and Shelter want them to see.
The general public need to be educated about facts such as 95% of mould in properties is caused by condensation by the lifestyles of the occupants. Rat infestations, cockroach infestations etc also rarely happen in properties which are regularly cleaned and respected. Neighbours of landlords whose tenants behave anti-socially need to understand that it can take six or more months for landlords to evict a nuisance tenant. Only when the general public understand these realities are they likely to be more supportive.
Our biggest achievement to date was winning a case at the Court of Appeal to stop mortgage lenders being able to increase lifetime tracker mortgage margins or bully borrowers into accepting new mortgage terms by threatening to call in loans within 30 days even if they are not in default. That was under the name of Mark Alexander for Property118 Action Group vs West Bromwich Mortgage Company. We recovered a reported £27,000,000 of overpaid mortgage interest plus 100% of costs and interest compensation.
We want to grow our membership and encourage new members to make regular monthly donations. To begin with, most of the money received will need to be reinvested into growing the membership by taking on cases which showcase the landlords perspective. Most important is that we promote these cases to the media.
To begin with, most of the money received will need to be reinvested into growing the membership by taking on cases which showcase the landlords perspective. Most important is that we promote these cases to the media.
The bigger the membership the more funding we will have and the more noise we can make. Having said that, just one good member of staff could open a huge number of doors for us if that was their full-time job. Until we have a few thousand members though it wouldn’t be fair to employ a member of staff because we couldn’t be certain that the job would remain open regardless of how good they are. It’s not just the salary the has to be paid of course, there are always expenses associated with any employee.
To get the ball rolling, we need a volunteer committee who will take on the initial role of recruiting new members in their area, and then meeting with them perhaps once a month and encouraging them to recruit more members. I haven’t quite got my head around exactly how this will work yet because I am now resident in Malta. However, the Property118 Directors are UK based so I’m hoping that one of them will be able to chair any necessary meetings with the founder members acting as the centre’s of influence. We can, of course, have Skype meetings too.
News of cases we take on etc. will all be shared on Property118. There are no limits in regards to the numbers of stories we share. We can also promote meetings in the Property118 Events Calendar and in our weekly round-up Newsletters. Members should be encouraged to share news on Social Media.
There will be no more than 10 regional chairpersons forming the National Executive Committee. These positions will be voted for annually by the area chairpersons in their region. We envisage up to 10 area chairpersons reporting to each regional chairperson. Some areas will also have branches. We envisage all branches, areas and regions will be self-funding through local fundraising and that the centralised functions will all be paid for by members making monthly donations.
For the time-being everything is very much intertwined with Property118 because it needs to be. The Landlords Union is too small for anything else to be viable at this stage.
In the fullness of time a company limited by guarantee will be formed as a not for profit organisation, affiliated to Property118 as that where this all started, hence that’s where the credit deserves to be, but stand-alone from a financial perspective. Neither Property118 not its Directors, shareholders or employees will profit directly from their association with The Landlords Union. Naturally, there may be indirect benefit for any person who takes a leading role in The Landlords Union, if only through increased exposure to landlords and the associated credibility of their position. This applies to any representative of The Landlords union.
One of the Property118 Directors will always assume the role of honorary chairman of The Landlords Union when the time comes to separate the legal status to ensure the core value expressed in this document remain.
We envisage the Property118 website continuing to be the media outlet for The Landlords Union on the basis that creating another website with the same level of traction would cost a fortune in terms of money and effort, both of which are unnecessary. One of the reasons for this is that building a website with the functionality and reach of Property118 costs upwards of £500,000.
The longer-term vision is that the same organisations supporting Shelter and Generation Rent now would also want to support The Landlords Union, e.g. the Nationwide foundation. After all, why wouldn’t they? Why most mortgage lenders send huge amounts of money to Shelter now!
We see no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get to the levels of budget that the likes of Shelter have within our lifetimes.
Back in 1992 when I recruited the first 18 members of the NACFB I had equally ambitious plans as The Landlords Union has now. The NACFB now has over 1,000 members and I understand that circa 80% of banks, building societies and private lenders now support NACFB financially. Their offices are on the Embankment in London because members of their team are in meetings at the House of Commons and the House of Lords on a daily basis. This is the level of influence I see The Landlords Union having in years to come.
Together, WE can do this, but we cannot do it on our own!
I would like to think you will be interested in running a region, an area, a branch or at the very least becoming a member and helping us to recruit others.
Are you with us?
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