9:00 AM, 22nd October 2012, About 11 years ago
Peter Lewis of Devon Landlords Association and his wife have been landlords for about fifteen years as a result of a daughter going to University and deciding to become a landlord rather than paying one.
Peter’s career is quite eclectic, but always associated with education in one form or another. He taught in the south of England and then joined Army in the RAEC for twenty years where he served with a variety of organisations including the Canadian forces as a training advisor. Peter returned to teaching and finished his career at a prison in Devon responsible for outreach education. He is now a company director of his own property business as well as SURVIVA, which specialises in ultra-light-weight heat reflective clothing for a variety of outdoor activities and emergency situations.
We asked Peter, what do you perceive to be the main challenges facing the PRS in the next 5 years?
Over the next five years I see our major challenge in the PRS as preventing local authorities and the Government treating us as a free lunch! Newham have started the rot and I see others jumping on the band wagon. It is easy money for them and a pain for us as we have to pass that on to stay in profit. I see the Universal Credit as a potential nightmare unless the Government sees reason and enables the housing element of that allowance to be paid direct to landlords. Tenants want it, we want it so why not the Government. It would take the major hassle out of the lives of many landlords who are prepared to take housing benefit claimants. We also need to strip away layers of red tape and a ‘jobsworth’ attitude practiced by many in the public sector.
What opportunities do you envisage for the PRS in the next 5 years?
The opportunities for the PRS are still many. Where the demand outstrips supply there will always be opportunities whatever the market. Ours is no different. I see the possibility of the PRS becoming involved in the shared ownership process which would enable first time buyers to get a foot on the housing ladder. There is a great deal of scope to provide self-contained living pods for individuals rented out on a daily or weekly basis. This would prevent homelessness and enable the landlord to judge if a person should be considered for an upgrade in accommodation such as a self-contained flat. This could be achieved by individual landlords or those prepared to work as a consortium. But there need to be tax breaks to help achieve this.
The Devon Landlords’ Association’s (DLA) role for its members is to:-
The DLA is a Good organisation supporting its members to be Good Landlords. We have a very clear code of practice that puts the tenant at the centre of our business. We are happy to support ‘The Good Landlords’ Campaign’ because it is something that all good landlords and tenants can willingly sign up to. I hope that it will encourage more landlords to join associations to help give them an increasingly strong voice as they represent the interests of landlords wherever that voice needs to be heard.