by Mary Latham
13:56 PM, 24th October 2011, About 10 years ago 24
An article in the Telegraph last week really offended my sense of justice. I am well aware that only landlords can really understand our business but “well informed” people seem to have very short memories. I want to remind them about some recent history of why housing is now costing the public purse so much more, while I don’t hope to convince our critics that the PRS is a solution, rather than a problem, I will fight our corner with the facts. I hope that other landlords will be inspired to bring some balance to the discussion too.
Have we forgotten that there are now many tenants living in the PRS who were once cared for in specialist units by the NHS? Many facilities were removed in the past and people were moved out into other homes, many of these homes were and are provided by private landlord. “Care in the community” – remember that? I know many great landlords who take very vulnerable tenants and provide care that was previously provided by specialists or who provide homes where care workers can visit and support these people. I really admire these landlords who work with people with enduring mental health issues, disabilities, drug dependency, alcohol related problems etc. Where would these people be without these landlords?
Some of the supply of homes in the PRS have been reduced to fill this important need and, coupled with the diminishing stock of all local authorities following ‘right to buy’, demand is now greater than supply.
Who will increase the supply and give people a choice of where they live? Council? RSL’s? Or will it be those private individuals who have invested in property and who are often reviled for doing so?
It is a simple fact that when demand is higher than supply for any product or service, customers have less choice and prices rise. Private individuals should be encouraged to invest in property – yes invest – and that means making a return/profit, no different to supplying any other service. Why should landlords be ashamed to make a profit, only those who have not taken the risk and have no idea of the amount of work involved would expect anyone else to work for free. Rents may well be increasing, but so is the cost of being a landlord. Interest rates are only a part of the story, we also have to pay for HMO and Selective licensing fees, loss of rent, repairs and replacements, cleaning, decorating, insurance, gas and electric safety inspections, EPC’s (increases in energy efficiency measures), accountancy fees, fees to our support organisations like NLA, sometimes letting and management fees and often legal fees, Accreditation and CPD seminars. A home that is rented out is far more expensive to run than one that is owner occupied; many people will be aware of the cost of running their own homes.
I made a very serious offer to a local authority officer earlier this year- “If you donate your income for a month to charity I will do the same”. My offer was not taken up. Before anyone says that I can afford to do this and that he could not, I grew up in a council house, I have not inherited anything, and I have not been given anything. I have worked hard since the age of 17, never avoided paying tax or NI and I also pay into a private medical scheme so that the only time that I have ever used the NHS, yet still paid for for all these years, is when I gave birth to my children. I am going to ensure that I am not dependant on my children, the NHS or any other organisation or individual to take care of me in my twilight years. I have always donated my time to what I consider to be good causes, I look after my tenants and my properties very well. Everything that I own I have paid for from my own endeavours and I will not apologise for being a good landlord, nor for making my income from my very hard work and risk taking over almost 40 years.
Perhaps those who criticise landlords like me would tell us what they have done to make this country a better place in which to live and thrive?
How many people have they helped to get through the day?
How many people are living in a safe comfortable home because of them?
How many people have they enabled to be mobile to take up job opportunities?
How many hours have they spent helping vulnerable people to cope with their difficulties?
How many times have they left their homes late at night to help out another person?
How many hours have they donated to support those in need?
How many cups of tea have the drunk while listening to those who feel alone and uncared for?
How many risks have they taken that have cost them hundreds of pounds and put pressure on their families?
How many homesick students have they supported to enable them to go on to reach their goals?
How many young people coming out of care have they given a home to?
How many families have grown up in nice homes provided by them?
How many couples have begun their lives together in homes provided by them?
How many people have found a safe haven because of them?
How many people have stayed with them, moving from home to home as their circumstances have changed, because they trust them?
I am proud to be a good landlord, what are those who criticise landlords like me proud of?
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