Is your MP a landlords champion?

by Mark Alexander

3 years ago

Is your MP a landlords champion?

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Is your MP a landlords champion?

With the 2015 elections coming up in six months time it’s time for landlords to start lobbying their MP’s. We need them to realise that over 1 million UK based landlords have a voice and have needs. Is your MP a landlords champion?

I am urging all landlords to write to their MP with a letter similar to my own (see below in italics).

You can be sure that tenants and lobby groups such as Shelter will be doing the same, so if we landlords keep quiet, as the usually do, the only voices MP’s will hear in terms of issues surrounding the PRS will be from those who despise landlords.

My letter to my MP (sent by email) ……

SUBJECT:- Forthcoming elections

“Dear Mr Freeman

As a resident of your constituency, and along with more than a million landlords operating in the residential private rented sector, I am beginning to consider who to vote in the forthcoming elections. I want to be certain that you will support landlords in parliamentary debates so I would be interested to understand how you feel about the following issues which are of primary concern to myself and my peers..

Like me, most landlords are simple hard working folk who invest into property to fund their retirement and who ask just 3 basic things from their tenants:-

  1. Pay rent on time
  2. Respect your neighbours
  3. Respect your home (my property)

No landlord enjoys periods when rent isn’t coming in! That’s why we want our tenants to stay long term. The cost of refurbishment between tenancies and re-letting far exceeds the cost of maintaining our properties and relationships with our tenants.

What landlords need is a quicker system to evict tenants if they don’t do any of the 3 basic things listed above.

Job mobility necessitates a larger PRS, it’s growth must not be allowed to be stifled in any way.

No tenant lives in poor conditions out of choice, increased availability of PRS property will create competition and resolve problems without the need for regulation. Supply and demand is basic economics.

We need Councils to use their existing powers to close down the rogue operators who tarnish the reputation of the private rented sector.

What we don’t need is more regulation (local or National) to be funded by stealth taxes on landlords (AKA licensing or registration fees). I doubt tenants would vote for this either when they realise it puts an upward pressure on the rent they pay and there are thought to be around 5 million tenants in the UK. 

The powers granted to local authorities to implement Additional and/or Selective licensing need to be removed. These powers negatively effect property values and insurance premiums for all property owners, regardless of whether they are owner occupiers or landlords. Also, there is no strong evidence to suggest that licensing reduces anti-social behaviour, which is why these schemes were introduced in the first place.

CGT rollover relief is applicable to landlords who invest in commercial property, but not residential property. That is counter intuitive! Tax reforms are needed to encourage residential landlords to trade up and to create more churn in the property market.

Please let me know which of my above comments you agree or disagree with so that I may consider how I will vote at the next election, and so that I may publish your reply at Property118.com for my fellow landlords within and outside your constituency to read.

One final question please; do own one or more residential properties yourself which you let to tenants? A simple yes or no to this question is all that is required.

Yours sincerely

Mark Alexander”

Important footnotes to Property118 members

You can find details of your MP here

You MUST quote your address in correspondence.

When you have sent your letter please post a comment below.

When you receive a reply from your MP please post that below too. If it’s a long letter please email to mark@property118.com and I will get it linked to your comment so that it can be opened in PDF format.

 

Comments

Mick Roberts

3 years ago

Mark, good on u for getting this started, but u forgot to put bits in for us Housing Benefit Landlords.

You may have to remind us in a month or so in an automatic email, to put the MP's comments on here, as I for one will forget.

My HB extracts below if anyone wants to use it or all of the text.

Also, for those of us that operate in the DWP Housing Benefit sector, MP’s, particularly the Tories, need to wake up & realise that paying DWP tenants one payment in ONE monthly go is gonna’ get a lot of these tenants in debt. We are all different, some better with money than others.
Giving them EVERYTHING in one go ain’t gonna’ help with this Universal Credit.
Please don’t say ‘Well we can pay Landlord once 8 weeks arrears has accrued.’ Why wait 8 weeks? That’s £1000 of Tax payers money that has gone on drugs & weekends away-And very importantly, £400 NONE tax been paid by Landlord on the income that we now haven’t got. Not rocket science is it!
Since Labour introduced LHA in 2008, I have had a few tenants now addicted to drugs because Labour gave them £1000 rent money in 2 months that they didn’t give Landlord, bought more drugs than they could ever afford before, & now fully addicted to ‘em-All from paying ‘em Housing Benefit direct.
So so simple to us on ground level who see these people every day, to what happens when the Govt give ‘em loads of money that should be used for something else, but you lot at the top of the tree han’t got a clue-I don’t refer to u directly on that Graham as I know you get out in the community sometimes with these less off people.

If the money is for rent, pay the rent. Why do you think DWP take money out income direct to pay the water bill?
Why do you think DWP pay the mortgage interest direct to the Building Society? ‘Cause DWP know from experience, that if they pay the claimant this portion of money, it won’t go on the mortgage-If they know from experience, it then baffles me how the puppets can then defend Universal Credit direct payment by the Puppet Masters.

How much extra is it costing all these councils & Housing Associations with the extra costs in collecting money & rent arrears now some of them have had Universal Credit? This is either Tax payers money, or money that could have gone on more houses or better houses. Absolutely ridiculous. Maybe in 5-10 years, one will look back & say ‘remember when we paid tenants direct the money that should have been used for rent & they was blowing it on theirselves?-What a ridiculous policy that was.’
I can see it, tenants can see, HB staff couldn’t see it 6 years ago when LHA came in-They too CAN NOW SEE IT-Tell them bigwig plonkers in Parliament to wake up!

Remember Poll Tax that Tories thought was a good idea at the time? EVERYONE charged tax for the air that they breathe?

Mark Alexander

3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mick Roberts" at "31/10/2014 - 08:29":

Feel free to add to my letter. The issues I've written about are those which affect me most, you will have many similar issues as mine are very generic but there are several other issues I've not covered, UC being a classic.
.

Mick Roberts

3 years ago

Further to the above while I've got my ranting head on.

Why do Elec & Gas companies have pay as you go meters? Der...Not rocket science is it! We are all different with money. Elec & Gas people know SOME people can’t budget & pay things every 3 months like other people, that’s why they give ‘em a provision to pay it as & when they have the money. THEY KNOW THIS FROM EXPERIENCE. And I know & HB staff know from experience, you CANNOT give a LOT of DWP claimants EVERYTHING IN ONE GO!
Now, when they run out of food or gas or elec, they may have their child tax credit in a few days to survive again.
They may get their child benefit tomorrow to put gas in before they freeze. To buy milk & bread for the kids.
If you give them £1500 in ONE MONTHLY PAYMENT, come on wake up-What do you expect to happen? Dream holiday to Spain? And they not gonna’ think about suffering the consequences later. They think of the GOOD time today-A lot of them don’t plan for the future. Unfortunately this is the real world at the bottom of the tree.

How much extra is it costing all these councils & Housing Associations with the extra costs in collecting money & rent arrears now some of them have had Universal Credit? This is either Tax payers money, or money that could have gone on more houses or better houses. Absolutely ridiculous. Maybe in 5-10 years, one will look back & say ‘remember when we paid tenants direct the money that should have been used for rent & they was blowing it on theirselves?-What a ridiculous policy that was.’
I can see it, tenants can see, HB staff couldn’t see it 6 years ago when LHA came in-They too CAN NOW SEE IT-Tell them bigwig plonkers in Parliament to wake up!

Remember Poll Tax that Tories thought was a good idea at the time? EVERYONE charged tax for the air that they breathe?

Dr Rosalind Beck

3 years ago

This is an excellent idea and also, Mark, you have given an excellent template. I also never thought about all the tax not paid because of tenants' spending the LHA. I think this is a major point - it would be great if someone could come up with a figure of what is lost because of this. We could even say that, in effect, as the tenant is causing this, we could argue it is a kind of tax fraud by the tenant (not sure how to phrase this). I'll get my letter sorted soon, taking bits from the template, including the missed tax issue and anything else I think of. Once more, I think this is an absolutely great idea and for people who don't have much time, they can just copy the letter in its entirety.

Carol Thomas

3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Rosalind Beck" at "31/10/2014 - 08:56":

Hi Rosalind. Some great ideas in your comment. Would you be prepared to put up your letter for others to use? No offence Mark, the more the merrier. Thanks in advance. Carol

Mark Alexander

3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "CaZ " at "31/10/2014 - 09:15":

Agreed, the more the merrier! 🙂

For those with very little spare time their is no excuse for doing something.

It takes just a few minutes to find your MP and to copy/paste my letter in an email to him/her.

I am excited at reading the other template letters posted here and especially the responses from the MP's.
.

Lucy McKenna

3 years ago

Will do Mark, thanks. Just one question. I wonder whether there is a reason for asking him if he is a landlord himself, it does sound a bit impertinent but I will include it if his reply to this question is helpful. Is it just so we can judge whether his reply is coloured by self interest?

Ian Narbeth

3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Rosalind Beck" at "31/10/2014 - 08:56":

Re: "I also never thought about all the tax not paid because of tenants’ spending the LHA."
I do not think this is a good point to make from an economic perspective. If the Tenant spends the money instead of paying the rent, the Government (usually) gets VAT (one-sixth of the amount spent) and the trader who receives it pays tax on his extra profits (I accept this may not apply to drug-dealers - though interesting to note the extra £1.7 billion the UK has to pay the EU is in part because of our thriving drugs trade!). The effect to the Treasury may be negligible or even positive if the money circulates faster. I am wholly against Councils paying the money for rent direct to tenants but we landlords should focus on the strong arguments and not make a weak case.

Points to focus on are that there are plenty of good landlords who want to provide decent accommodation for tenants who behave decently and that many tenants are not able to organise their finances and need some help. Mick Roberts over-states his case, and I suspect it is a tiny minority who binge on drugs, but for many tenants it is helpful not to have to worry about over-spending and not having enough to pay the rent..

Yvette Newbury

3 years ago

Thanks for the prompt Mark, great idea and I will get my letter prepared to my MP!

Dr Rosalind Beck

3 years ago

Hi all.
This is my draft. Feel free to give me your opinions on it as I've not sent it yet. And use whatever you want - maybe the points about all the good we do as landlords. I've put a bit in about my personal background, so maybe you might want to do your own version of this also?

I am writing to you as one of your constituents and as a landlord with a considerable number of properties in your constituency. Before deciding on which MP I will be voting for I would like you to clarify your position on landlords and policies targeted at us and to know what stance you will take in parliamentary debates affecting landlords.
For far too long it has been easy for many people, including politicians to scapegoat landlords, as an easy target. For example, Shelter is currently running a campaign with a staged photo of a mother brushing her daughter's hair in a bathroom with mould on the bath, walls, ceiling etc. Clearly this is a fraudulent photo. Who would move into a house that had 'permanent mould' on it in this way? In fact, the only way a bathroom could look this bad is if the tenant never ventilated or heated it and never ever cleaned it. And yet this is used as a way to bash landlords and to try and tarnish our name as a whole. It is scandalous propaganda and we have had enough. We are looked at as some kind of capitalists who have inherited our wealth (if we are wealthy - many landlords aren't) and as though we don't deserve what we have got.
Personally, the reason I have been able to acquire property is as follows:
My father worked long hours as a bus conductor in Cardiff but had to give up work and claim Social Security benefits when my mother left my brother, sister and me when I was ten. Throughout my school years I worked hard and I spent an additional 8 years in further education - to get my Degree, Masters and PhD. During all of this time I lived economically and did not do as others of my generation did and spend all of my income on myself each month (clothes, coffees, holidays etc). Indeed I supported both my parents by sending them a small amount of money each month out of my salary whilst also saving.
This meant that in my late 20s I was able to put a deposit down on a house and later on I decided to move in with my partner and rented the first house out. Over the years we raised equity from this house to buy others and in this way we became landlords. We took many risks with our money and have had some nightmare tenants along the way, who have ended up owing us tens of thousands of pounds, with little recourse to justice for us. However, generally, our risk-taking has paid off, although the stress of the work has sometimes felt unbearable.
It is thus extremely galling to us that so many people and organisations feel able to landlord-bash. Indeed, our taxes even contribute to the funds of these groups who hold extreme, one-sided, anti-landlord views and who only ever see the side of the tenant (even when that tenant has wrecked a house and/or owes a landlord hundreds or thousands of pounds). They always see the tenant as the victim and the landlord as some kind of perpetrator.
Clearly, this is grossly unfair.
I also object to the idea that others not in the same financial position as me are more worthy than me, having spent their money on more frivolous items whilst I invested in property.
Please bear with me, while I point out some of the things which we as landlords contribute to society (this might sound defensive, but I do it because the good work we as landlords do is so often not valued):
1. We often invest in old, sometimes decrepit housing and we restore it and bring it back into use. When we do this, it is a financial gamble as property values can go up or down.
2. If private landlords were not willing to take these business risks there would be a massive shortage of housing in this country, as the Government relies on private individuals to take these risks (having sold off council housing for example and then not replaced them).
3. We also provide comfortable, safe housing for millions of people. This housing is safer than ordinary owner-occupied housing, as we have the gas safety checked every year and also ensure electrics and so on are safe. We then provide 24-hour help to our tenants, so any problem they experience at the house (a burst pipe, a leak etc.) becomes our problem and we sort it out. These tenants have complete mobility as they only need to give us one month's notice and they can leave if they want to move away for a new job or whatever reason. This flexibility of the workforce also supports the economy.
4. We employ builders, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, painters and decorators.... the list goes on, including also buying supplies from DIY stores, furniture suppliers, locksmiths - we support all manner of businesses, who then pay taxes and keep the economy moving. We invest massive amounts of money in this way every month of every year.
5. We support estate agents, the financial services, through the massive amount of interest we pay to mortgage companies and banks over the years, brokers, and also through insurance policies, conveyancing lawyers and so on. We employ and pay large amounts to letting agencies also. This also keeps a substantial number of people in permanent employment.
6. Of late, through unnecessary and pointless licencing by councils and the massive fees that they charge, with a monopoly on this (they effectively write their own cheques and we sign them), we even prop up the finances of local councils.
7. We run the risk of getting tenants from hell - this can happen despite us taking all kinds of precautions, and the law gives us very few rights to recover the money owed to us. Sometimes we even take on tenants known to have alcohol or drug dependencies as we can be a bit soft. Often then, we get our houses wrecked in return for our charitable attitude. Councils and the Citizens Advice Bureaux then advise these tenants to stick it out for as long as possible whilst paying no rent, meaning we as landlords are even more out of pocket.
8. We get the finger pointed at us when we let to groups of students or professionals. For example, we may convert a Victorian house into a 6-bed, 2 bathroom house. This enables individuals to pay a low rent for a room with communal facilities. This is often seen as some money-grabbing, cynical move by landlords. In fact, it is profitable for the landlord, great for the tenant (who only spends a small part of their disposable income on housing), and is a great use of space. How can it be seen as preferable for one person (an owner-occupier) to have use of a whole house for themselves? Heating and lighting a house for 6 people is a great, environmentally friendly use of housing. And yet we get criticised for this instead of being praised and encouraged.
Yes, landlords aim to make a profit from all of this work, but so do all businesses and indeed all people who go out to work. Everyone works to earn an income but not everyone is unjustly vilified as we landlords are.
In sum, we would ask that you read these points carefully and if you have previously held an anti-landlord stance, as seems to be the unimaginative, default position of many, we ask that you open your mind a bit and reconsider this and perhaps you could even be a small voice for us out there. We are more than one million after all and we do not have horns and tails (it is only a matter of time before Shelter present us in that way in one of their publicity campaigns).
I would appreciate a response to this letter and also could you let me know whether you personally rent out a house to anyone, as the property website Property118 is conducting a survey on this? I will also be publishing your response (or lack thereof) on the website, so that other landlords in this constituency will have the opportunity to decide whether they should vote for you in the General Election or not.
Yours sincerely

Dr Rosalind Beck

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