Stuart Trow

Registered with
Thursday 10th September 2015

Latest Comments

Total Number of Property118 Comments: 2

Stuart Trow

10:21 AM, 12th November 2016
About 4 years ago

Private Rental Housing - A Hole In The Bucket

Donated £50. Thanks for coordinating this.

Your briefing document is comprehensive and well drafted. I've got nothing to add save to highlight my particular irritations.

1) Even those who should know better have become so fixated on bashing the PRS that they totally ignore the consequences for those who either have to, or choose to, live in private sector accommodation.

2) Allied to that the impact of proposed policy changes is usually pretty simple. Certain measures either increase or decrease the supply of housing, whilst other increase or decrease the demand. Help to buy, for example, increases demand (bad), routine planning objections to making property work harder via HMOs reduces supply (also bad).

3) Random licensing increases costs to no great benefit to the tenant and ultimately reduces supply in the rental sector. Personally I would prefer that all landlords were licensed on a consistent national basis rather than being vulnerable to local officials acting out their hostility towards landlords. I think tenants are entitled to feel confident that a property they rent meets certain standards. Persistent and deliberate breaches of the rules will result in sanctions.

4) Corbyn's "subsidy" thing is also irritating as my experience has been that social or HB rents are actually lower for private landlords than the open market.

5) If it was deemed desirable to punish leverage in the PRS, one of the stated aims of the whole mortgage relief reduction thing, it would be far more honest to restrict the availability of interest-only mortgages rather than make a market distorting grab for revenue.

6) And finally a small point on rent control proposals. I fully accept that it is desirable to avoid sudden and disproportionate rental increases. What concerns me is that attempting to over-control the situation will result in annual index-linked increases in rents becoming the norm. It is my experience that most landlords tend not to increase rents for sitting tenants. So in simply trying to avoid isolated cases of gouging, you risk all tenants being subjected to annual increases. You can see what the campaigners are trying to get at, but their lack of understanding of how things actually work in practice means they again risk damaging those they are seeking to protect. Ultimately the only way to drive down rents is to increase supply.... Read More

Stuart Trow

15:36 PM, 11th September 2015
About 6 years ago

Treasury asks RLA for feedback - Tax Survey

The issue of business-level tax reliefs for buy-to-let is always problematic inasmuch as BTL is rarely the main source of income for smaller landlords. The further twist is that few, if any, non-corporate landlords pay national insurance contributions, somewhat undermining the case to be considered businesses in the purest sense.

However, regardless of what the ideal situation might be, the fact of the matter is that the private rental market is dominated by small investors and is unlikely to change significantly in structure going forward. Tampering with the current delicate balance risks removing significant capacity from an already stretched market. This may well increase the supply of properties available for purchase, but won't do much to address the problem that fewer people are in a position to buy at any price thanks to stricter credit rationing.

My experience as a small landlord (8 properties) was that it was only investor buying in 2010 and 2011 that prevented rents rising (in London in particular) even more sharply than they did. The mechanism was imperfect, reallocating existing property from owner occupier at a time of low demand. However, it doesn't take much imagination to see what would have happened if the market's attempt to deliver more rental accommodation had been stymied.

To my mind an important element of a better taxation system would be to distinguish between purchasing properties requiring little or no additional capital investment and those requiring significant refurbishment to make them habitable. Ideally we'd be talking new builds.

In framing such policies there are two significant issues we need to understand. The first is why larger businesses form such a relatively small part of the private rental market. What element of current incentives is it that encourages legions of small landlords, yet makes companies relatively reticent? The student market is one where large companies have transformed the quality of the offering to students and, to a degree, kept private landlords in the sector "honest".

The second issue is the systematic bias against Houses of Multiple Occupation. I'm not an HMO landlord, but it seems to me that if we are collectively not building sufficient new housing stock, making the existing stock work harder is the only rational option. A one-bedroomed flat is a waste of space for most singletons, especially if they are on a tight budget, or solely dependent on benefits.

HMOs appear to be subject to huge institutional prejudice from the very authorities you might imagine would be keenest to increase the supply of cheap, local accommodation.

Most are already licensed and there are more than sufficient existing regulations to ensure the quality of supply if this were made a priority.

If there is a sense in which authorities believe that the amount of tax incentive available to encourage investment in the private rental sector is limited, then it has to be spent wisely on creating good quality new capacity.... Read More