Is your MP a landlords champion?

Is your MP a landlords champion?

17:59 PM, 30th October 2014, About 7 years ago 105

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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

by Carol Thomas

16:08 PM, 28th November 2014, About 7 years ago

Let's hope that Mark gets a chance to talk to my MP. He's done some amazing reports on the PRS.

by MoodyMolls

17:29 PM, 28th November 2014, About 7 years ago

Hi

Had this reply for the one I send for RLA

Dear Ms Miller,

Thank you for your e-mail to Brandon Lewis MP about Sarah Teather MP’s Tenancies (Reform) Bill. This has been passed to me for reply.

The Tenancies (Reform) Bill is a Private Member’s Bill which seeks to protect tenants from the small minority of rogue landlords who, rather than meet their legal duty to keep their properties at a reasonable standard and remove health and safety hazards, instead evict tenants simply for asking for essential repairs to be made. At the same time the Bill also seeks to improve the evictions process for landlords.

Ministers have given their backing to the Bill in principle, as no tenant should be evicted simply for raising a legitimate complaint about the condition of their home. But Ministers acknowledge that they need to ensure that it does not impose unfair burdens on the whole sector, as the overwhelming majority of landlords are responsible. The Bill should be balanced, such that tenants cannot make vexatious complaints, and that it does not bring in excessive red tape.

Ministers will need to be convinced that the Bill delivers those safeguards. The Bill will have its 2nd reading on 28 November, and this will give the House an opportunity to debate its merits.

Regards,

by Dr Rosalind Beck

18:16 PM, 28th November 2014, About 7 years ago

Hi all.
Damn. As an optimist, I thought the Bill had been permanently halted... Right. I would now like to write to Brandon Lewis, so I have written a draft which I paste below. Before I send it I would welcome any feedback, to make sure I'm not making any boo-boos. [For those of you who have read my other letter to my MP skip past the points I make about why we landlords are so good]

Dear Mr Lewis
I am writing to you regarding the Tenancies (Reform) Bill. Along with the majority of landlords in the private sector who are aware of the contents of this Bill, I am amazed at the progress it has made through Parliament. As it stands, it is a charter for the rogue tenant - and I have come across many of these in my time - people who know how to charm their way into a house, and then stop paying the rent until we have exhausted all procedures to evict them and are owed thousands of pounds which we often do not recover.
According to my understanding of the Bill, any tenant would now only have to make a complaint - it could be vague - along the lines that 'the house is in poor condition' or it could even be about a repair issue that the tenant themselves has caused - to the local authority. A possibly untrained and potentially biased Housing Officer could then decide whether this was a legitimate complaint or not. As it is not in the interests of councils to have people made homeless there is obviously a conflict of interest here.
We would then not be allowed to issue proceedings for six months. This means that any tenant - regardless of whether they were paying the rent or not or damaging the house for example - would be likely to be able to stay forever in our houses, as they would only need to report another 'repair issue' every six months. Have I misunderstood this? Can the Houses of Parliament pass a law so bizarre, ill-thought-out, anti-business and so contrary to the principles of justice?
Even if they were only allowed to do this once it could mean landlords being forced to provide 6 months rent-free accommodation before the standard five or six months it takes to evict according to the law as it stands. Even if it was later proven that the complaint was unfounded (and it will be very difficult to prove either way in reality), we are very unlikely to ever recover the arrears that the tenant will undoubtedly run up (this would be the whole point of them making a vexatious complaint).
Of course, we all know that the Bill is considered to be a vote-winner, given momentum by a biased campaign run by Shelter which has exaggerated the extent of 'revenge evictions,' which if it is a problem at all, must be a tiny one as I have never come across it in nearly 20 years as a landlord. Thus, I have never personally evicted a tenant because they said a repair needed doing. This would be contrary to common sense as we want tenants to report maintenance issues so that we can catch these before they cause further damage to our houses and also because we would not want to lose a good tenant and then have all the expense of a void and re-letting the property.
In reality, the only reason we ever evict is because the tenant is not paying the rent and we are not in a position and do not want to provide rent-free accommodation to strangers who are not members of our family (who does?). But this is what the Bill will force us to do if it becomes law. Can you please see that this whole thing is a red herring and get it shelved sooner rather than later?
The measure is simply an attack on landlords who for some reason seem to be an easy target to so many.
In contrast to the implication in the Bill that landlords are a group which needs excessive legislation and monitoring I will now point out below some of the positive contribution landlords make 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.
Perhaps you can get some of these points across for us during the Parliamentary debates and committee stages? It is clear that many of your colleagues, along with campaign groups like Shelter, are operating from a position that is ignorant of the role of landlords in society and instead, seem to deliberately misrepresent what we contribute to the country or believe others who for reasons of their own think it is a good idea to attack landlords.
Yours sincerely

by MoodyMolls

8:26 AM, 29th November 2014, About 7 years ago

Hi

This came back from Rla

​Dear Kathy,

Earlier today, Sarah Teather MP’s Private Members’ Bill, seeking to ban so-called retaliatory evictions by limiting landlords’ use of section 21 notices, failed to win enough support in the House of Commons.

I’d like to thank members for supporting our campaign and raising concerns about the Bill with MPs and ministers. We have worked hard to help secure a victory for common sense.

The Bill was based on emotive examples of tenants living in poor conditions rather than hard evidence and fact. It had many faults that would have been abused by bad tenants determined to avoid paying rent or indulging in anti-social or criminal behaviour. Its supporters ignored the fact that local councils have no capacity to deal with an increased workload, and that it would undermine confidence in the PRS.

The RLA does not support retaliatory eviction and is now working to direct future policy in a way that protects the interests of good landlords and retains their use of section 21 notices to deal with nightmare tenants.

We know that, as a result of today’s debate, the PRS will come under further scrutiny as the General Election looms. The RLA will continue to stand up for landlords, interests and fight your corner.

Again, thank you for your support.

Alan Ward, Chairman

by Barry Fitzpatrick

12:48 PM, 1st December 2014, About 7 years ago

I've had a totally "non answer" from my MP see below:

Thank you for contacting me about bad tenants and landlords’ rights.

There is already a number of procedures in place which deal with the problems associated with bad tenants in the private rental sector. Foremost, landlords should have a tenancy agreement in place which sets out the rules and rent guidelines to their tenant. This provides important protection for both the landlord and tenant, as the contract sets out the legal terms and conditions which the tenant must abide by.

The Government is working hard to issue guidance to landlords to make them better aware of their rights. The Department for Communities and Local Government offers advice about the procedures that landlords are able to take in the event that the conditions of a contract are breached.

First, if direct discussions fail to resolve an issue, the landlord should write a formal letter to the tenants, setting out the problem. A landlord can also seek to use a mediation service – which some courts provide for free for small claim cases – as a quick and cheap way of resolving disputes. As a last resort, landlords can take tenants to court – or a small claims court for those cases those worth less than £5,000 (or £1,000 if the case is about repairs to a property).

Fundamentally, private landlords have two main routes they can take to regain possession of their property under the Housing Act 1988. Section 21 gives a landlord an automatic right of possession without having to give any reasons once the fixed term has expired. In addition, Section 8 allows a landlord to seek possession using grounds that include rent arrears and anti-social behaviour.

I hope this reassures you that private landlords are protected against bad tenants.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Best regards

Dr Andrew Murrison
MP for South West Wiltshire

by Dr Rosalind Beck

13:33 PM, 1st December 2014, About 7 years ago

And these are the people in charge....
The guy didn't address the issues at all. As if we don't know what our current rights are. It was the fact that the Bill sought to take away those rights that was the issue. I'm thinking of lots of words that equate to silly person, but am resisting writing them. ('cr..in' is my favourite one though).

by Mark Alexander

14:26 PM, 5th December 2014, About 7 years ago

REPLY FROM MY MP ....

"Dear Mark,

Thank you for your email, which I have read carefully. First let me say that I very much appreciate the points you raise and can sympathise with the three conditions you helpfully outline in your email, all of which I very much understand.

Having raised your concerns with Ministers at the Department for Communities and Local Government, I know there are already a number of procedures in place which deal with the problems associated with bad tenants in the private rental sector. Foremost, landlords should have a tenancy agreement in place which sets out the rules and rent guidelines to their tenant. This provides important protection for both the landlord and tenant, as the contract sets out the legal terms and conditions which the tenant must abide by.

The Government is working hard to issue guidance to landlords to make them better aware of their rights. The Department for Communities and Local Government offers advice about the procedures that landlords are able to take in the event that the conditions of a contract are breached.

First, if direct discussions fail to resolve an issue, the landlord should write a formal letter to the tenants, setting out the problem. A landlord can also seek to use a mediation service - which some courts provide for free for small claim cases - as a quick and cheap way of resolving disputes. As a last resort, landlords can take tenants to court - or a small claims court for those cases worth less than £5,000 (or £1,000 if the case is about repairs to a property).

Fundamentally, private landlords have two main routes they can take to regain possession of their property under the Housing Act 1988. Section 21 gives a landlord an automatic right of possession without having to give any reasons once the fixed term has expired. In addition, Section 8 allows a landlord to seek possession using grounds that include rent arrears and anti-social behaviour.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Yours,

George

George Freeman MP

Member of Parliament for Mid Norfolk
Minister for Life Sciences
8 Damgate Street, Wymondham, Norfolk, NR18 0BQ
01953 600617
http://www.georgefreeman.co.uk
Twitter: @Freeman_George"

MY REPLY TO HIM .....

Dear George

You have not addressed any of the points in my email and I do not appreciate the general response provided.

I have been a landlord for over 25 years so the guidance you have offered is elementary and somewhat insulting.

I have published your reply, and mine to you, here >>> http://www.property118.com/mp-landlords-champion/69840/comment-page-6/#comment-49330
.

by MoodyMolls

14:31 PM, 5th December 2014, About 7 years ago

Hi
Just rec this from RLA
Dear Kathy,

Following the defeat of Sarah Teather’s Bill seeking to ban retaliatory eviction last week, Lib Dem Peers are attempting to reintroduce it in the House of Lords.

An amendment has been tabled to the committee stage of the Deregulation Bill containing many of the provisions in Teather’s original Bill. Landlords would be prevented from serving a section 21 notice for six months where a tenant had previously complained about the property and the council had served a relevant notice. Relevant notices are improvement notices and hazard awareness notices relating to category 1 and category 2 hazards and those relating to emergency remedial action.

The Deregulation Bill is a Government Bill so cannot be talked out in the same way as a Private Members’ Bill, giving the amendment a better chance of success. The committee stage is likely to take place in January, and RLA chairman, Alan Ward, has already written to key members of the House of Lords to brief them on the issue.

Landlords also have an interest in the Deregulation Bill, as it includes an RLA-led amendment seeking to deal with the worst aspects of the ‘Superstrike’ case and tenancy deposits.This seeks to address the issue that when a tenancy became a statutory periodic prescribed information will not have to be re-served.

We will continue to campaign for private landlords and ensure you are up to date with any outcomes.

by Mark Alexander

14:35 PM, 5th December 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "KATHY MILLER" at "05/12/2014 - 14:31":

Hi Kathy

Please ask the RLA to contact me to see how we can work together to tackle this issue. My email address is mark@property118.com.

THANKS 🙂
.

by John MacAlevey

15:00 PM, 5th December 2014, About 7 years ago

I received a fairly non-commital reply from my MP Greg Mulholland yesterday;

Dear John,

Thank you for your email.

I am certainly agree with many of the points you make. The vast majority of landlords are very hardworking and conscientious, and indeed the vast majority of the tenants respect property and pay their rent on time.

Unfortunately, as you have pointed out, this is not always the case, and I would support measures to allow landlords to evict tenants who fail to do abide by the three points you have listed, though of course this would depend on the actual details of any proposals. I can understand that not being able to quickly evict tenants who are not paying rent on time or damaging the property could be incredibly frustrating.

I certainly agree that a larger private rented sector is needed, and in general, we need more of all types of housing. As you have stated more competition would inevitably lead to better choice for tenants, and I am pleased to say that the Liberal Democrats recognise the need to improve the number and quality of rented homes available.

I do agree that Council’s need to use their existing powers to close down rogue operators, and this is something that I have raised with Leeds City Council on a number of occasions. Whilst more regulation may not be welcome, it may be necessary to ensure a national system of dealing with so-called “rogue landlords”, as currently systems vary greatly between local authorities. More people now live in the private rented sector than live in social housing, and whilst we do not want to punish good landlords, it is important to ensure that tenants have the tools and protection to get a good deal.

Finally, I can confirm that I do not own any property that I let to tenants.

Once again, thank you for contacting me and do not hesitate to get in touch on this or any other issue in the future.

---Yours sincerely

Greg Mulholland
Member of Parliament for Leeds North West


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