7:42 AM, 6th March 2016, About 5 years ago 31
Dear Campbell Robb,
You may recall a letter you received from a landlord called David in October 2015. In fact, I wrote the letter upon his request and published it on-line; you can see it here, along with comments from others.
Time has moved on and it has now become clear to many others that the Chancellor’s attack on private landlords is going to greatly damage the private rented sector and the economy as a whole (as we, at Property118 predicted months ago). In addition to numerous economists (including Paul Johnson at the independent IFS), the Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Council of Mortgage Lenders and so on, the Treasury Select Committee has now also voiced its concern, as has the Bank of England, at this assault on private landlords.
Yet still you continue to attack us in your public statements, making the common mistake of thinking that by attacking private landlords you assist private tenants. In the Daily Mirror on the 3rd of March you are quoted as saying that private tenants ‘pay through the nose for something they can never call their own.’ The figure of £40,000 being paid on average in rent every 5 years is given. I don’t know why 5 years was the period chosen; one could equally say that the average rent is £22 a day for a 2-bedroom house. That seems quite reasonable; however, I rent out several 2-bed houses for around £300 to £320 per month. I also rent a house for £500 a month, housing 3 working adults. Were they to want to buy, it would be eminently affordable. These tenants are also not paying through the nose.
Many landlords cater for this ‘lower end of the market,’ charging very similar rents to those charged by social housing providers; with the big difference however that we then have to return a portion of the rent received to the Government via taxation, meaning that in many instances we provide cheaper housing than Housing Associations. I notice that you don’t attack them for ‘taking’ £40,000 over 5 years, which ‘could have been a deposit.’ Can you explain this differentiation?
It is evident to me that there is a strange implication behind these anti-landlord comments, namely that you seem to imply that we should provide the housing for free as then the tenant would have the £40,000 in their pocket for a house deposit. Not even publicly-funded Housing Associations and councils do this, but you criticise us implicitly for accepting payment for the housing we have funded out of our own money; we have often worked hard at creating these homes and have taken great risks in the process. But in your world it is as though landlords have no associated costs with these rentals (in fact, landlords lost £9 billion last year through arrears and damages, in addition to much of the rent often going towards the mortgage).
Regrettably, you have also promoted and supported the removal of our right to offset the finance costs of our business. When are you going to realise that this is not only grossly unjust to landlords but is going to be extremely injurious to the tenants you purport to represent? It appears to me that you have in fact abandoned the millions of tenants in this country who do not want to become owner-occupiers at this stage in their lives or simply will never be able to afford it, as my parents couldn’t, having been reliant for many years on benefits.
When this levy on finance costs was introduced in Ireland, rents skyrocketed, as I have outlined in my article here:
So, don’t blame us when this happens here (landlords are already upping rents in order to build a war chest for when we have to pay tax on ‘fictitious profit’). We won’t be benefiting from this money – we shall merely be collecting it for the Exchequer. This is why it is being called a ‘tenant tax.’ When are you going to stop supporting it?
It is clear that nobody is speaking up for tenants, except for private landlords. You are certainly not helping with your continued slurs against landlords, which is just feeding into the anti-landlord juggernaut and assisting the Government in its agenda of trying to tax private landlords into oblivion whilst promoting the institutional building of accommodation which will be expensive and Orwellian in its sameness (unsurprisingly, yet scandalously, there is evidence of links between these institutions and the funding of the Conservative Party). Not everyone wants to live in a box though; many people want to rent in their communities and have gardens and space – something many of us private landlords provide. Take a look at this article and you will see the extent of the danger ahead for tenants:
Neither Shelter, nor Crisis, nor the Government, nor anyone seems to be taking this impact on tenants into account. Whether you loathe us or not (you certainly seem to), you need to wake up to the collateral damage of this ridiculous and evil onslaught on the private rental sector, before it is too late. I have pointed this out to several Labour Party politicians and told them to note, as I tell you, that these letters stand as public testament to the fact that you have all been told what the consequences of this unprecedented attack on the PRS will be; so none of you can plead ignorance later. The letters are here:
I believe both you and many politicians have lost sight of the principles which should guide you all. Rather than criticise housing providers (but only one section it seems – private landlords; not institutions, not social housing providers and not councils) I believe you should start working constructively with them instead and/or start providing ‘shelter’ yourselves.
Private landlords’ confidence and trust has now been so damaged that we are effectively halting any expansion or development. You may have noticed this week that house-building has taken a nose-dive. As private landlords have often provided the seed finance for new-builds, this slump is not unexpected. Is this what you want?
I think it is time you clarified what the aims of Shelter now are as you have lost your way.
Dr Rosalind Beck
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