Here’s a radical idea – Stop Shooting Fish in a BarrelMake Text Bigger
I am writing this after reading an article with the opening line “A Labour MP says that every MP he knows “is desperate for help in dealing with rogue landlords”.”
Here is a radical idea – penalise local authorities who do not use their legal powers to enforce the law!
This is what happens to good landlords:
- We come forward and apply for a licence if we are letting a licensable HMO and pay a fee which, in my area, is around £800 a property
- After 5 years we come forward to apply for a renewal and have to pay £800 again
- If we let in an area where a local authority has been unable to get rogue landlords to do the right thing we will find ourselves paying a fee for Selective Licensing (non-HMO’s), and this fee in my area is the same as the HMO fee £800
- If the local authority are concerned that there are too many HMO’s in an area they will put in an Article 4 Direction which carries a planning application fee of around £300
- We will have our fire alarms, gas system, electrical system and appliances tested as required by law at a cost of £200+ a year
- We will protect our tenants deposits at a cost of £30 each
- We will join a landlords association to ensure that we are up to date and have access to a help line at a cost of £80 a year
- We will ensure that we have appropriate insurance cover including around £55 a property a year just to ensure that we are covered if we are successfully sued by a tenant or visitor
- We pay an accountant to do our tax returns and file them on time
- We pay our tax including a payment in advance for next year
- If we sell one property and buy another we will pay full capital gains tax with no rollover relief
Those landlords who do not do these things are at a commercial advantage because their overheads are so much lower. I am tired of paying for the bad boys. Like any business I have the right to expect those who have enforcement powers to use them to ensure that people in my business are not breaking the law. Could you imagine British Airways tolerating another airline being able to employ untrained pilots to fly for them?
I do not want to hear that “there are not enough officers to do the work” or that “the red tape is too onerous” and nor do I want to hear that “the money taken in fines goes to national government”. These same people have time to spend in meetings planning new ways to get money out of the good landlords, selling us services that should be provided out of our taxes because they are in the best interest of the community and planning schemes to encourage landlords to work with them while ignoring the facts that have made previous schemes fail.
If there are not enough staff to enforce existing legislation and regulation why are local authorities planning to implement New selective licensing schemes and Article 4 Directions?
The answer is that what they are planning will be paid for by the good landlords and provide revenue to top up their coffers. It will make no difference at all to those who fly under the radar, just as HMO’s licensing has failed to improve the living conditions of those who live in appalling unlicensed HMO’s. Good landlords will pay and do the right thing while the others will continue to laugh at us. Actually many of us will say “time to sell up”, I know this from the many landlords who are just waiting for the property market to improve.
What is the solution?
Every local authority that plans to bring in further control schemes should be asked one simple question- How many landlords have you successfully prosecuted because they have failed to meet the legal requirements of the Housing Act 2004 and other older legislation?
And to those MP’s who are “desperate for help in dealing with rogue landlords”. Please make sure that my tax pounds are used to enforce the law and protect the reputation of my business from illegal operators!
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