Simon Williams

Registered with
Monday 11th July 2016

Latest Comments

Total Number of Property118 Comments: 83

Simon Williams

10:26 AM, 13th November 2019
About 2 days ago

Nottingham council to use landlord review website

I think this website has actually been going for a couple of years now and attempts have been made by various bodies, including the BBC and Guardian, to big it up as the next TripAdvisor or some such. The reality is very different. For example, in Cambridge, which will have thousands of properties for rent, just 10 are reviewed on the site and in the vast metropolis of London just 87. Even if those numbers were to double on an annual basis, it would be insignificant.

The reason they don't really work is because your typical Trip Advisor hotel will get hundreds or even thousands of guests every year - more than enough for a critical mass of useful reviews (most of us filter out the barmy ones). But, as we all know, the average tenancy in the UK is 4 years long, so the vast majority of properties won't get reviewed at all or won't get reviewed with a statistically meaningful sample on which a prospective tenant can actually rely.
Furthermore, whereas you are likely to set foot in a hotel for the very first time only after you booked it (and therefore past guest reviews are really useful), the vast majority of tenants get to see the property with their own eyes before making their decision. If the property looks total crap, that will be a far more telling indication of the bona fides of the landlord (or lack thereof) than a chance one-off review on an obscure website.

Incidentally, not long ago I checked out a 'rate my lecturer' website for academics. I know a law lecturer originally from the US, so was intrigued. I was amazed to see sexist and frankly racists remarks about her e.g "she's so annoyingly American" and "I can't stand her accent". Generation snow-flake happy to dish it out but not so keen to receive perhaps?... Read More

Simon Williams

10:10 AM, 12th November 2019
About 3 days ago

Conservative Right to Buy test?

I should add that the source material for my figures in the above post is the Housing Europe Review "The state of housing in the EU 2017" which seems to cite around 5 different sources by country for the data - mainly each countries' state statistical authority e.g for the UK, ONS and DCLG are cited.... Read More

Simon Williams

21:39 PM, 11th November 2019
About 3 days ago

Conservative Right to Buy test?

The Telegraph article is statistical crap. We have heard this false narrative before; namely that owner-occupancy is too small and the PRS has been allowed to grow way too large. It is dangerous because it is used by both the left and right to argue for ever greater controls and taxes on the PRS. We MUST counter it. So, let's look at the numbers.

The average owner-occupancy rate across the 28 EU member states is 69% (compared to the UK 64%). But it is crucial to understand that the countries that tend to have very high rates of owner occupation in the EU (and in the rest of the world generally) and which greatly skew this average are; (a) poor countries and; (b) have virtually no social housing.

So no surprise that Romania tops the EU owner occupancy list at 96%! At the other end of the owner occupancy sector is mighty Germany at 45 %. So let's not get it into our heads that high levels of owner occupancy are necessarily something to shout about. In truth, comparing the likes of Romania, Bulgaria etc and their truly wonderful housing, against the Western European nations is pretty meaningless.

So, let's get a more meaningful comparison of UK owner occupancy levels (64%) by comparing them to the wealthier EU member states:

Austria - 54%
Belgium - 64%
Denmark - 50%
Finland - 64%
France - 58%
Germany - 45%
Ireland - 67%
Italy - 71%
Netherlands - 60%

So, as you can see, UK owner occupancy levels are, if anything, on the high side compared to other wealthier EU nations.

Now, more crucially, let's look at the private rental sectors within the EU. Once again we see a familiar story. By comparison with wealthier EU nations, the UK PRS (19%) is, if anything, on the SMALLER side:

Austria - 18%
Belgium - 27.5%
Denmark - 29%
Finland - 19%
France - 23%
Germany 51%
Ireland 20%
Italy 15%
Netherlands 10%
UK - 19%

The final segment is the social rented sector, which, believe it or not is actually quite large in the UK (I think about the 4th largest across the EU.) Only the Netherlands is much larger (which is why it has a correspondingly small PRS).

CONCLUSION: by comparing UK owner occupancy levels and PRS levels to other wealthier EU countries, the UK housing system is seen to have an entirely NORMAL balance of tenure. If anything, owner-occupancy is larger than normal and the PRS is smaller than normal in the UK. Therefore, this is NO argument based on comparative analysis around the EU, to suggest that policy intervention is needed to "correct" any "imbalance" in the UK. If one looks beyond the EU, one also sees a similar picture: poor countries have high owner occupancy levels, richer ones tend to have lower levels. UK PRS is small and social rented relatively large by global comparison.

Spread the word.... Read More

Simon Williams

12:19 PM, 26th September 2019
About 2 months ago

Should I sell or risk tenants buying at undervalue price?

Reply to the comment left by JJ at 26/09/2019 - 11:16
I don't tend to pay much attention to them, to be honest, but in my RLA monthly magazine, the RLA (oddly perhaps) has given a platform to one of the Lib Dem housing bods to trumpet their proposed reforms which are: abolish section 21 (but give landlords rights to sell etc); tenant gets first refusal if landlord sells (though no suggestion this won't be normal market rate); national landlord registration scheme; specialist housing courts; independent regulator for letting and managing agents.... Read More

Simon Williams

11:07 AM, 26th September 2019
About 2 months ago

Should I sell or risk tenants buying at undervalue price?

Going back to Joey's original question, it is odd that there were apparently no major announcements on housing at the Labour conference. McDonnell mentioned rent caps and that's about it. At this stage, I wouldn't take too seriously the threat of forced below market sales to private tenants. At least wait until there is an election and a Labour manifesto is issued.

A bigger risk in my view is that Labour will jack up capital gains tax on sales of rental properties. It will realise that, on coming to office, many private landlords will want to sell up to avoid rent caps and everything else besides. Jacking up CGT will ride the wave of tax generated by those sales as well as perhaps preventing a total rout of the PRS which secretly they would not want as it will hurt tenants. A possible step for Labour is to put CGT at the marginal rate i.e.up to 50%.

So, look at your possible taxable gains and watch Labour tax policy very carefully.... Read More