McDonnell’s distorted and dangerous version of Right to Buy9:01 AM, 5th September 2019
About 3 weeks ago 35
And so the onslaught against private landlords continues. Earlier this month, we were shocked to hear that a cornerstone of tenancy law in the UK was to be overturned, with the scrapping of Section 21. Farcically, we were told that a consultation would take place after the decision had been made.
This was an unexpected move, as in fact the Government had been conducting one of their ‘post-decision’ consultations on the idea of ‘3-year tenancies’ (something Shelter had been pushing for). Section 21s had not even been on the agenda. Such is the floundering, knee-jerk politics of today, that a completely different policy decision emerged from it.
The abolition of Section 21s had been called for by the anti-landlord organisation Generation Rent. As part of their campaign, they deliberately misrepresented Section 21 by repeatedly referring to it as a ‘no fault’ eviction – such that this phrase is now used by everyone, as though landlords evict the clients they are dependent on to cover the costs of their businesses, ‘for no reason.’
In fact, as we all know, often Section 21 is used because it is the least awful solution to dealing with rogue tenants. The anti-landlord representatives say it means landlords can evict ‘at a moment’s notice’ when in fact, although it is supposed to take 2 months, the average time taken is 6-7 months if the tenant does not want to leave. During this time, the tenant is often paying no rent.
The reason the only other possible Section – Section 8 – is not used as often is because the tenant can raise spurious defences, for example lying that the house is in disrepair. The judge often then adjourns the case and the tenant gets even more months rent-free, while the landlord is pushed further into debt through no fault of their own – some even have to take out loans to cover the mortgage on the rental in which the tenant is living.
This is not only costly financially; a survey has found that private landlords’ mental health also suffers significantly because of, amongst other things, the way that the system is set up to enable these rogue tenants to ruin landlords financially, especially, as it is often the case they also wilfully wreck the property. Landlords’ mental health | National Landlords Association
This can cost landlords tens of thousands of pounds. No-one in Government is looking at this issue at all. The demonisation of private landlords has gone so far, hardly anyone in politics or the media is speaking up for them, despite them facing these gross injustices and the legal system completely letting them down.
And now, if, as is expected, the Government continues with its move to scrap Section 21, ‘charities’ like Generation Rent and Shelter will start pushing for the next punitive measure against landlords; the most likely contender for this is to somehow force landlords to take tenants on benefits, even if this is not the client group landlords wish to occupy their properties.
Shelter has been conducting a campaign on this for some time and various Government Ministers have jumped on the virtue-signalling bandwagon. Shelter has even been bullying landlords and letting agents into removing the words ‘no DSS’ from adverts and they also threatened to sue a letting agent, before the agent settled out of court, rather than face the stress and costs of a court case. Shelter now represents this as a legal victory and claims it is now recognised as discriminatory to specify ‘no DSS.’ It isn’t. Being in receipt of benefits is not a protected characteristic according to equal opportunities legislation. Settling out of court to avoid the stress and costs of a £60 million ‘charity’ hounding you through the courts does not create new law.
As part of their campaign on this, Greg Beales, Campaign Director at Shelter, has claimed that there is no evidence that tenants are benefits are ‘less-good’ tenants than others. There’s ‘no evidence that people on benefits are ‘less-good tenants’, says Shelter spokesman
He said that, given that, landlords and letting agents who do not accept those on benefits are engaging in ‘disgusting’ and ‘immoral’ practices. https://inews.co.uk/opinion/comment/housing-benefit-renting-no-dss-shelter/
Such rhetoric demonstrates his ignorance. Of course as Shelter provides no housing to anyone, they would not have first-hand experience of the issues involved. As landlords, however, we know that there are many reasons why it makes no sense to accept people on low wages and/or on benefits. No amount of banning landlords and agents from specifying ‘no DSS’ will change these facts.
Some of the reasons why it often does not make sense to accept people on benefits as tenants:
This final point demonstrates how various forms of Government interference in the private rented sector are having the opposite results to the alleged intentions. One change causes landlords to not be able to take on tenants on benefits; the next tries to ban them from not taking on tenants on benefits. We all know the next will be rent caps. It is like trying to shove a lid on a boiling pot when it is about to boil over.
And at the same time that they are trying to ‘disallow’ landlords from having control over their own assets, are ‘disallowing’ landlords from offsetting their finance costs, and ‘disallowing’ landlords from choosing the tenants they want, they leave the social sector completely alone despite 61% of eviction notices actually coming from this sector 24housing and despite the fact that this sector also is moving away from accepting tenants on benefits.
As an expert on this said: “Shelter and the National Housing Federation are engaging in deliberate known deceit in their combined campaign over NO DSS in the private rented sector – A campaign that is so superficial it shames them both…Social landlords… do routinely operate affordability tests and they do refuse to accommodate the benefit tenant and thus they operate the same NO DSS practices as the private landlord.” https://speyejoe2.wordpress.com/2018/08/23/dear-polly/
Where is the hue and cry about that?
No. They turn a blind eye to this, because they are fixated to an almost manic degree on private landlords; a fixation which is already starting to wreck people’s lives by pushing them out of housing.
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