I Will Not Say Sorry for Being a Good Landlord

by Mary Latham

13:56 PM, 24th October 2011
About 9 years ago

I Will Not Say Sorry for Being a Good Landlord

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I Will Not Say Sorry for Being a Good Landlord

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?


Ben Reeve-Lewis

21:07 PM, 26th October 2011
About 9 years ago

Now that is an excellent idea Mary, utilising property tribunals to deal with possession cases. I like that.

I spent hours yesterday in my local county court. There wasnt even any room to sit. Council housing officers presenting undefended claims, vyed for court time with small claims applicants, mortgage cases, like my client, and family law cases, one disgruntled father having to be dragged off of his ex wife by security in what seemed to be a particularly nasty child access dispute.

If there are millions of tenants and landlords, why not remove the responsibility for dealing with them from overstretched county courts? That may well shorten eviction times and streamline the proces for all. Maybe, as is the case with deposit adjudication, things could be dispensed with on paper. This would entail having a clear system for presenting information but that could be the role of lawyers and people like me, to make that clear to all parties

7:51 AM, 27th October 2011
About 9 years ago

This is a brilliant article

18:32 PM, 3rd November 2011
About 9 years ago

Great article Mary, very much agree with what you write about, I've been investing and letting properties for many years now and we provide a great service to ourtenants, we want them to treat our properties like their own home and don't mind if they decorate, move furniture etc. Any maintenance problems are sorted within a day or so, it's not uncommon for us to get to the property within 10 minutes as we live so close to some of them. Where else can you get service like that?
Many are foreign, from afar afield as Africa, India and Europe and we take pride in providing clean, modern, friendly properties and sometimes we almost liken them to extended family! Whilst we do everything we can to give them a good home, it's a give/take relationship and almost every tenant we've had realises and appreciates that which we're lucky to experience. For those that have maybe taken advantage by not paying the rent or trashing the property, we can only think that they will realise how lucky they were when they move on and maybe not encounter landlords as friendly as us!
There needs to be more landlords and investors who shout out about how good they are as landlords and the service they provide.

Mark Alexander

21:23 PM, 14th December 2011
About 9 years ago

There are 1.5 million landlords and most of them are good. That's why I'm promoting the concept of The Good Landlords Campaign. I'm looking for expression of interest at this stage. Details here >>> http://www.property118.com/index.php/the-good-landlords-campaign/21994/

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