16:00 PM, 5th November 2019, About 2 years ago 25
Recent years have seen a sustained attack on private landlords by the Government and other groups. The relationship between landlords and tenants has also been painted as adversarial by organisations which purport to represent tenants, but who in fact work against their interests.
This must be seen in the context of the huge success of the private rented sector (PRS). Indeed, the Government’s own English Housing Survey found that 84% of private tenants are happy with their homes, compared to 80% of social tenants. In addition, rents have remained stable for many years, broadly tracking inflation.
This success has been predicated on individuals being willing to use their own money to purchase and renovate properties and then take the inherent risk of renting them out. Without this enterprise there would be a much bigger housing shortage in this country than there already is; there would also be many more empty and derelict buildings, causing a blot on the landscape.
Conclusive proof that the sector is working extremely well has been ignored and instead, private landlords have been denigrated and the PRS has been misrepresented as ‘broken.’ The policies which then follow from this are leading to many landlords now exiting the sector, at a time when more housing is desperately needed. The situation is crazy.
That is why we at the Landlords Alliance propose an alternative, positive agenda; one which works for tenants and landlords.
We therefore call upon the next Government to:
1. Scrap Section 24, which is a tax on turnover and will only drive rents up and landlords out of the market. This outrageous piece of legislation is contrary to all rules of natural justice and because it can lead to some landlords paying a tax rate of more than 100% is bound to cause rents to rise, pricing out the lowest-income groups.
2. Reverse plans to scrap Section 21, as this will also make landlords flee the market, in fear that they may never regain possession of their own private property.
3. Scrap Right to Buy, which has decimated the social housing sector and meant so many cannot find an affordable home (private landlords are then scapegoated for this, with some groups now trying to force private citizens to house people on benefits).
4. Enforce laws already passed to target the small percentage of bad landlords and stop increasing the regulatory burden on the majority of decent landlords. Constant passing of regulations which cost landlords huge amounts of money but do nothing to improve housing must end.
5. Bring a halt to extortionate local licensing schemes and replace them with a national register along the lines of Rent Smart Wales, with a nominal charge. Then make it a requirement for landlords to be a member in order to receive housing payments from the state.
6. Commission an independent inquiry into the ‘housing and homelessness charity’ Shelter to examine how it uses its approximate £60 million annual budget to target private landlords incessantly whilst not providing any housing itself. Remove any state aid and charitable status for this organisation until it stops misusing funds and begins to provide housing and shelter for the homeless.
7. As a general rule, reject policies which would damage private property rights in the UK. This would include the theft of homes advocated by the Labour Party (which they call ‘Right to Buy in the PRS, at a value dictated by the state); punitive tax policies which because they are at a level which is confiscatory can lead to bankruptcy and the loss of people’s private property; rent controls which damage the viability of rental homes and are thus also confiscatory and not least any tenancy legislation which takes control of the asset away from the owner and gives it to someone else.
Policies for any business or sector need to protect the interests of all interested parties – in this case, tenants and landlords. If the current parties persist in scapegoating private landlords, they will cause more damage to tenants.
The 2 million landlords plus in the UK, their families, the tradespeople who work for them, the owners of the stores where they buy their building and decorating materials and others dependent on private landlords’ businesses will be looking very carefully at each party’s proposals for us and we will have our say at the ballot box.
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