11:47 AM, 13th March 2023, About 7 months ago 5
MPs have backed the National Residential Landlords Association’s Ben Beadle after the Guardian newspaper claimed he was ‘making up stories’ about a landlord exodus from the Private Rented Sector (PRS).
In its report, the Guardian said Mr Beadle made the claim as part of a lobbying effort last September to change the tax rules for landlords – but he acknowledged in a recent webinar that the buy to let sector is expanding.
Mark Alexander, the founder of Property118, last week denounced the article as ‘tosh’ and ‘nothing more than twisted words to suit the narrative of a left-wing rag’.
Mr Beadle had been speaking to the Levelling up, Housing and Communities select committee about why tax rules should be relaxed to help boost the PRS because the tax measures cost landlords around £1bn every year.
However, the Guardian points to an industry webinar held earlier this month in which Mr Beadle acknowledged that the PRS is growing, and this was ‘not terribly helpful’ to the NRLA’s case.
That webinar appearance led Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke, who sits on the select committee, to declare that Mr Beadle and the NRLA had been ‘caught red-handed making up stories about a ‘shortage’ of rental stock so landlords can jack up rents and to scare politicians who should know better’.
The Guardian said that Mr Beadle’s ‘story’ was at odds with what he told MPs in September 2022 when he told them that landlords are leaving the sector and ‘the exodus is well under way’.
When approached by the newspaper, Labour MP Clive Betts, the chair of the select committee, said that they would be looking at the evidence given and whether Mr Beadle would need to explain or make a correction.
However, the committee has now declared: “At no point has he ever provided misleading information to the Committee.”
Mr Beadle told Property118: “My comments to the select committee were made before the most recent English Housing Survey was published.
“At the time, the latest figures showed that the number of households in the private rented sector had fallen by almost 260,000 between 2016/17 and 2020/21.
“I did not mislead the committee.”
He added: “Since my appearance before the committee, new English Housing Survey data has been published, which has suggested the number of households in the private rented sector increased between 2020/21 and 2021/22.
“It was to this that I was referring to on the webinar.
“However, my comments did not provide the full context.
“The latest English Housing Survey data remains an outlier when compared to all empirical evidence and other key industry data.”
Mr Beadle highlights:
Mr Beadle said: “Despite the strong demand, 30% of landlords said they plan to cut the size of their portfolio in 2023, the highest level of planned disinvestment seen in more than six years.
“And finally, despite what the official English Housing Survey shows, even the Government has admitted that there is a supply problem in the sector.”
He adds: “In a letter to the Housing Select Committee at the end of last year, the Minister for the Private Rented Sector noted that ‘demand is currently outstripping the supply of properties available to let’.”
Rather than apologise, the Guardian has added a footnote to its story and explains that the committee is satisfied that Mr Beadle’s evidence ‘had not been misleading’ and that Parliamentary researchers have now been asked to provide further information on the extent of landlords leaving the market.
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