Email to Prime Minister et al

by Readers Question

9:39 AM, 26th February 2019
About 4 months ago

Email to Prime Minister et al

Make Text Bigger
Email to Prime Minister et al

I sent the following email to the Prime Minister et al and would welcome comments from members:

Dear Prime Minister, Leader of HM’s Opposition, Chancellor and Shadow, Housing Ministers and Shadow, Mayor and Hon MPs,

As a single HMO-property landlord in Brent, I am writing this email because you, ladies and gentlemen, potentially have influence on rules, regulations and legislation that affect the private residential sector.

I thought you may like to hear the views of someone who has been at the coalface for over 42 years.

I started letting in London in 1976, because in 1977 I went away to Germany to work (in my profession as a chemical engineer in the oil industry – now retired) and was away for nearly 10 years.

During this time, I managed my London property from Germany. On a forthcoming ending of a tenancy I would, like everyone else in those days, advertise in the Friday edition of the Evening Standard and then drive from Duesseldorf to Ostend after work, take the night ferry from Ostend to Dover and arrive at my house in West London early Saturday morning.

During the course of that weekend I would take over from the last tenants, interview new tenants, select one, sign the tenancy agreement, etc, and then be back at Victoria station on Sunday night. Ferry back from Dover to Ostend, drive to Duesseldorf and arrive just in time for office on Monday morning!

But the key point I wish to draw to your attention is that during the whole of that weekend THE TELEPHONE WOULD JUST NOT STOP RINGING! Such was the DESPERATION of tenants looking for a place to rent.

This was because we were in the dark days of the Rent Acts 1974/1977, which had driven landlords almost completely from the market and DECIMATED AVAILABILITY for tenants.

As those of us old enough will know, the Rent Act 1977 was a draconian reaction by the Wilson government to the antics of a certain Mr Peter Rachman. But the end result was that it hurt the very people it was meant to help. The law of unintended consequences.

This tyranny continued until Mrs Thatcher liberated the market with the Housing Act 1988. Gradually landlords began trickling back into the market and tenants once again started to have AVAILABILITY and CHOICE!

That trickle eventually turned into a flood. However, all the good work that Mrs Thatcher did is progressively being undone with ever more stultifying regulation, carried out no less by successive Tory governments playing to the gallery.

One cannot raise standards by legislation or council-imposed conditions, only the market can do that. One interferes with the market at one’s peril.

The only areas that Councils need to concern themselves with are fire safety, electrical safety, gas safety, conditions such as mould, and overcrowding. The rest is up to the market and the courts. Anything else brings absolutely no benefit to tenants, merely increases ineffectual, burdensome bureaucracy.

In fact, during the initial registration of my HMO, this was all that the Council concerned itself with. Unfortunately, registration was replaced by licensing as a result of the Housing Act 2004 under Mr Blair’s regime and we have seen ever more intrusive interference into the minutiae of letting by the Council.

With unlimited power granted by this Act, we are now also witnessing bizarre rules being imposed, rules not founded on facts or logic. For example, landlords across the board being told to fit window restrictors such that windows cannot open more than 100mm to prevent grown up adults falling out of windows! We appear to be well on course to turning ourselves into the laughing stock of the world.

Legislation in most cases caters to the lowest common denominator, lumping the good landlords with the bad. The end effect will be that good landlords will abandon the market leaving only the bad. The legislation is unfair on the councils too, because it is asking individual officers to exercise what are effectively subjective judgements, besides leaving room for abuse of power. In many verifiable instances it actually disadvantages tenants, and vulnerable ones at that.

It is time to clip the Councils’ wings by repealing, or at the very least severely curtailing, Section 67(1)A of the Housing Act 2004.

The main reason why Britain’s housing market is structurally defective and young people are unable to get a foot on the ladder is FISCAL. Whereas landlords are able to set off their mortgage interest payment against tax, home owners cannot. This is blatantly unfair and means that even if the supply/demand dis-equilibrium is rectified, landlords will always be able to hoover up the most affordable properties to the detriment of young buyers – and renters will remain in servitude to landlords.

When MIRAS was progressively reduced and then finally abolished, exactly the same tax regimen should have applied to landlords. No Chancellor has ever addressed this built-in structural distortion, nor any newspaper to my knowledge raised this issue.

Restoring parity in the tax treatment of mortgage interest between landlords and property owners will be a far more effective method of empowering tenants than bureaucratic means such as rent controls. Renting should only be a temporary option for people in transition, with property ownership the ultimate goal for all, even if this is by way of low-cost micro-studios as starter homes for singletons. PEOPLES’ HOMES – for the many, not just the few

Fight the tenants’ corner by fiscal means and by unleashing market forces in their favour, not by futile knee-jerk legislation and certainly not by giving Councils powers that should not be in their remit*. Nearly all post Housing Act 1988 legislation should be repealed and fed to the bonfire.

There are many examples one could give of what is going wrong in housing, and improvements that can be made, but this suffices for the time being.

I appreciate that the political establishment is currently consumed and paralysed by Brexit, but problems of state must still be addressed.

Kind regards
Frederick BSc Eng (Hons) CEng MIChemE (retired chartered chemical engineer – so hopefully endowed with a bit of analytical, logical and rational thinking)

To: mayt@parliament.uk, leader@labour.org.uk, philip.hammond.mp@ parliament.uk, mcdonnellj@parliament.uk, kit.malthouse.mp@parliament.uk, james.brokenshire. mp@parliament.uk, heather.wheeler.mp@parliament.uk, john.healey.mp@parliament.uk, vince.cable.mp@parliament.uk, gardinerb@parliament.uk, mayor@london.gov.uk
18 Jan at 21:53



Comments

Larry Sweeney

9:56 AM, 26th February 2019
About 4 months ago

Very well stated. The UK is now a joke. We are a laughing stock with pointless regulation heaped upon more red tape and excessive powers granted to local authorities, who are utterly clueless. We have Sefton contravening GDPR regs, the ICO which is useless, different licencing regimes sprouting up all over the country as Liverpool attempt to renew their dodgy scheme introduced on the back of a massive lie ,that the entire city was an area of low occupation. A other local authority asks that landlords live within 2 hours commute of their property. 2 hours by bicycle, car or Helicopter. Sheer lunacy ,as property rights are being eroded. We have a government and opposition who are brilliant at dreaming up pointless legislation and sucking up tax payers cash, but neither party could in the real world negotiate their way out of a paper bag. The brexit fiasco demonstrates that all to clearly and i do not take sides in that discussion, just pointing out that what ever side of the fence one sits on, it is a sad charade. Tax and regulation is all these useless lawmakers understand. There is now so much regulation that some laws contradict others. Finally an example. The bankrupt council that is Liverpool included a section in its licensing conditions ,re the issue of a sect 21. The idiots failed to comprehend that this contravened the Deregulation act, until I pointed it out to them. The clause was quitely removed. What clown drafted this, in the first instance and how much tax payers hard earned cash did he/she draw in salary. Its difficult to believe that any serious jurisdiction could now be compared to the UK.

Old Mrs Landlord

11:31 AM, 26th February 2019
About 4 months ago

Clearly you have no mortgages on your let properties or you would not be proposing a fiscal measure (the total removal of tax relief on mortgage interest on let property) which would bankrupt many other landlords. Contrary to your belief that all adults should only rent for a short period as a stepping stone to becoming homeowners, it is my experience that many people do not wish to ever own their own homes, seeing a mortgage as a "millstone round their neck" and being horrified at the idea of being responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of a property; besides which many people are incapable of ever earning enough to be able to afford the initial outlay of purchase or qualify for a mortgage.

David Price

12:04 PM, 26th February 2019
About 4 months ago

Cynically I am happy for landlords not to get tax relief on their 'cost of doing business' provided that the playing field is properly levelled and home owners pay CGT on their capital gains at 28%. Let's thoroughly wreck the whole property market just Brexit has been wrecked.
If the letter has not been sent then please do not send it.

Ian Narbeth

12:15 PM, 26th February 2019
About 4 months ago

Frederick, you do not give any detail or cite examples of particular bad laws except that you don't like licensing. Well too bad. HMOs need to be licensed. I run several of them and we accept it as the price of business. Thankfully we have a good working relationship with our council.
Your statement:"One cannot raise standards by legislation or council-imposed conditions, only the market can do that. One interferes with the market at one’s peril" is simply wrong. Landlords need sensible consistent standards fairly applied and with Councils assisting landlords to "get it right" in the first instance and taking punitive action only if landlords do not put things right after a warning. The "market" won't enforce standards. That's why we have laws.
As you only have one property it is clearly not your main business. As as an HMO owner there is a lot of legislation to keep up to speed with.
As Old Mrs Landlord has commented removing mortgage interest relief will destroy many businesses. If you prevented hotel businesses or pubs or vehicle leasing businesses from deducting their finance costs you would destroy many of them.
Your criticism of landlords is misguided. Some people will never be able to own their own home and some prefer to rent. Where will they go if some of your schizophrenic ideas (half Jeremy Corbyn, half Ayn Rand) are implemented and the PRS is destroyed? Property ownership for all is unrealistic. Despite your "analytical, logical and rational thinking" you have not factored in that fewer people will want to get on the housing ladder if it is horizontal or goes down. Why would they buy an asset that will have the same or a lower cash value in 10 years' time?

Mick Roberts

12:33 PM, 26th February 2019
About 4 months ago

You hit the nail on the head with your words:
tenants once again started to have AVAILABILITY and CHOICE!

I don't think any of my tenants are ever gonna' leave me unless they win the lottery, as they can't get anywhere cause of over regulation on other Landlords, who are now choosing the most squeakiest full deposits full rent up front pass all credit checks tenants they can get.
And in the nicest way, I want some of mine to leave me, so I can slow down or I ain't never gonna' be able to retire at this rate.

Old Mrs Landlord

13:00 PM, 26th February 2019
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 26/02/2019 - 12:15"Half Jeremy Corbyn, half Ayn Rand" - I like it; very apt.

Claire Smith

13:02 PM, 26th February 2019
About 4 months ago

I agree with Old Mrs Landlord that landlords should get mortgage relief. Owners of other businesses are able to offset their finance costs, so why shouldn't landlords? If I have a shop selling food, I can deduct my costs. Instead I am providing another necessity but also with finance costs for my business. Why should this put me into higher rate tax on my turnover instead of my profit?

terry sullivan

13:10 PM, 26th February 2019
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 26/02/2019 - 12:15
why do hmos need to be licenced?

terry sullivan

13:11 PM, 26th February 2019
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Claire Smith at 26/02/2019 - 13:02
tories are after turnover taxes for other businesses

Ian Narbeth

13:36 PM, 26th February 2019
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by terry sullivan at 26/02/2019 - 13:10Because HMOs need higher standards of fire safety and other health and safety issues. When a family live in a house they generally know who is in the house at any time and family members ensure everyone gets out if there is a fire.

With 5 or more unrelated people there is not the same knowledge or concern for other people in the house. It is sensible to have a system of licensing to ensure that adequate fire doors, door closers and alarms are installed and that the house has adequate amenities for adults.

1 2 4

Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

OR

BECOME A MEMBER

Citizens Advice calling for National Housing Body

The Landlords Union

Become a Member, it's FREE

Our mission is to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst UK landlords, tenants and letting agents

Learn More