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Government Vendetta Against Landlords

We have recently been hit with a set of new proposals by this gofmint, which they allege is to bring private rented property up to standard and give tenants more rights. Of course, the social housing sector is exempt (as it always is when gofmint tinkers with housing regulations), thereby ignoring the myriad of problems that exist with housing standards in that sector. But I digress.

The Housing Minister, John Healey recently announced that the government will:

  1. set up a new website on which tenants can post their views on their landlord and their accommodation
  2. launch a new National Landlord Register to enable tenants to see how well prospective landlords maintain their properties and how quickly they fix any faults with them
  3. make it a legal requirement for all tenancies to have written agreements, to ensure that tenants are clear about their rights from the outset
  4. put in place tougher regulatory regime to drive out rogue letting agents

    And then to cap it, the Treasury announced a consultation today on the role the private rented sector can play in increasing the supply of housing, as well as what measures the Government can take to remove any barriers to investing in rental properties.

    Now where do I start??

    It is obvious to anyone reading these pronouncements that this gofmint aint sure whether it wants to attract private landlords or wage war against them. It can’t do both simultaneously, and it really needs to rethink its strategies, and stop this vendetta.

    Did anyone notice the lack of the word “responsibility” in the gofmints’ references to tenants. Its all “rights”, “rights” and more “rights”. Where, in the name of all that is good, is the “responsibility” side of it??  You give people rights without spelling out the responsibilities that go hand in hand with those rights? That’s why this society is in the sorry state it is in. Everyone is so focussed on rights, responsibilities just don’t come into the equation. You cannot have rights without responsibilities, both go together. My favourite way of expressing this is that “rights and responsibilities are like the two halves of a pair of scissors, you cannot have one without the other TM”.

    The gofmint should be seeking ways of educating tenants on how to be good tenants, and not just seek to weigh down majority of good landlords with more regulations and the attendant costs. A lot of tenants don’t bother to read their tenancy agreements anyway, and just toss it to one side or loose it. When I take on tenants, I always explain the main points of the tenancy to them, that it is a legally binding contract, and they are expected to behave in a “tenant like” manner, be responsible in paying rent in full and on time, keep the house in good condition, report any maintenance items to me promptly, not cause nuisance to neighbours etc. In return the Landlord will leave them to “quiet enjoyment” of the property and maintain the fixtures/fittings that we are required to do. I encourage good communications, as that is essential.

    But some tenants just can’t be bothered. Some just don’t understand the word “contract” or “legally binding”, and think they can break the agreement if and when it suits them without any consequence whatsoever. The advice given by some Housing officers at the Local Authority also leaves a lot to be desired, seemingly aiding and abetting such tenants. You give some a good standard house to live in, and they trash it anyway.

    I welcome regulation, it will do the job it’s intended to do, and root out the rogue elements. But we in the industry live daily with the effects and consequences of the implementation of some of the badly thought out housing laws that have been spewed out in recent years. There are already enough laws in place, which if implemented properly, will achieve the goals that the gofmint is aiming for. Implementation is the key, not more laws. Hear me dear gofmint, IMPLEMENTATION, not more regulation. To implement existing laws, the Local Authorities need more staff and better training so they can do the job well. But what does the gofmint do, hit them with smaller budgets that mean more cuts in jobs and services. Then the gofmint gives more laws for those remaining to implement, and they can’t because they are understaffed and underfunded, and the cycle goes on ……

    If this gofmint really wants to see an improvement in the standards in the private rented sector, then may I suggest that the government should:

    1. set up a new website on which landlords can post their views on their tenants and identify those “tenants from hell”
    2. launch a new National Tenant Register to enable landlords to see how well prospective tenants have behaved in previous tenancies or if they’ve left owing rent
    3. make it a legal requirement for all tenants to attend courses as landlords are expected to do and become accredited or licensed, showing they understand their rights and responsibilities
    4. put in place tougher regulatory regime to drive out rogue letting agents (amen to that)

      The gofmint can encourage faster/better response to repairs and investment in property by removing VAT on repairs, and making grants available to Landlords for some essential repairs. For example, in my neck of the woods, replacing a gas boiler costs a minimum of £1200 if you are lucky and have a friendly Gas Safe plumber, £1700 on average, and £2,200 or more if you are desperate. Plus VAT. Most landlords just don’t have that kind of money sitting around, and when the need arises, have to find the funds somehow, otherwise the tenant and council officials go all gong-ho. For portfolio landlords, its even more dire if 2 or 3 go pop as they tend to do, all at once!! There are any numbers of ways to help private landlords, if this gofmint is willing to listen rather than regulate.

      So, dear gofmint, stop the vendetta. It aint gonna help you get more stock into the private rented sector. Trust me.

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