Landlords: All the bills, none of the rights

Conservative-led reforms of the Housing Act transformed the PRS from the dirty, down-at-heel business it was in the post-war years to a professional business where most landlords respond to healthy competition by offering high standards and competitive rents. Investment rose dramatically, fuelled by the prospect of sensible returns.

Labour is fast undoing 30 years of progress in the PRS, by forcing up Landlords’ costs, and constantly eroding their rights. While they claim that they value the PRS and its contribution to housing, their actions speak of a socially-divisive administration which is resentful of those who have built successful businesses, and is determined to punish their success at every step.

Nowhere is this more apparent than the laws and procedures governing evictions. As a landlord you cannot evict a tenant until the end of the tenancy fixed term (usually 6 months, sometimes 12). If the tenant has given grounds – through non-payment of rent, or anti-social behaviour – for eviction, the landlord must serve at least 2 months’ notice. If this is ignored (which it often is), he must then apply for a court order for possession. With court delays and the notice period granted, this typically takes 2 months or more before it is effective. Even then, the tenant has the right in law to remain in the property until a bailiff is appointed to enforce the court order; and local councils and Citizens Advice Bureaux are all too keen to point this out to defaulting tenants. Getting a bailiff can take 8 weeks or more (due to waiting lists), and legal costs by now usually exceed £1000. So, all in all, a tenant can stop paying rent after the first month, and the landlord must then wait 7 months or more to obtain possession, and pay legal costs on top of lost rent revenue.

In any other business, this would not be allowed. In any other country, it would also not be allowed. Take the USA: it takes just 14 days to re-possess a property when the tenant has stopped paying rent, and the court cost is a fraction of what it is in the UK.

When is this government going to stop defending the rights of those who deliberately sponge off society and legitimate businesses? If this government wants landlords like me to continue providing decent housing both to private renters and benefit-claimant tenants, when is it going to level the playing field and start defending MY rights?

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0 thoughts on “Landlords: All the bills, none of the rights

  1. Sharon

    If this had been the first article that anyone had read about the injustices being endured by private landords they might be tempted to think ‘God, that’s unfair’! I on the other hand remain constantly bemused by why landlords feel so persecuted. If you look at the legislation surrounding the PRS, it has been a regular pendulum. For example, don’t you landlords remember the Housing Act 1988 which gave you more incentives to rent with the introduction of the Assured Tenancy, which ‘assured’ you of your ability to recover your property and to charge market rents? Don’t you remember the Housing Act 1996 whereby you got the Assured Shorthold Tenancy, because you felt that the Assured Tenancies were still too favourable to tenants (despite them offering less protection than the protected tenancy)?

    Whilst I can understand some of your grievances, such as LHA being paid directly to tenants, the bottom line is that most of you go into it to make money and if the comments received in response to David Salisbury’s recent article are anything to go by then just exactly how much ‘good work’; is currently being undone?

    As for the upset over the forthcoming licencing of HMO’s, how many of you can truly say that you are concerned for altruistic reasons? There have been somewhat disparaging references made to ‘NIMBY’S’ and the ‘middle classes’ who have, according to some, been a minority being able to exert undue influence ahead of a general election, (the National HMO Lobby would no doubt beg to differ) but what would the response from the landlord sector have been had their calls not to change the user class been acted on? Probably not quite the same.

    All of the bills and none of the rights? Not quite!

  2. AMc

    With respect (or whatever respect I can muster), the comment from “Advisor to Directors…” is errant nonsense. Whatever perspectives she may have on the way the various Acts have “swung the pendulum”, it must be self-evident (surely…even to a blind man, or “Advisor”) that if those Acts have enshrined a process whereby the obligations of both parties, and the means of redress in the event of failure, are in place, then the ability to seek rightful redress through the Courts ought to be capable of being enforced. The law must act speedily to secure the rights of parties on either side who have been wronged (this obviously applies also to errant landlords); the response from “Advisor” is merely a mis-informed opportunity bash the motives of landlords, which is entirely irrelevant to the point that the original article is making.
    The article by “Major Landlord” is wholly and completely correct, and the problems he describes ought to be recognised for the near-national scandal that they represent. Thousands of ordinary and upstanding people opted to invest in property through the very sensible opportunities created by a visionary climate for sound rental returns, and never was this more necessary than when Prudence Brown wrecked the UK’s previously strong pensions environment. People looking for some means of providing for themselves when Brown and his acolytes had destroyed traditional options rightly explored the potential of rental property to be a retirement vehicle, and did so in the expectation that the values enshrined within the Acts would provide a reliable means of protecting themselves if the self-evident risks (which they were prepared to countenance) actually came home to roost. If it became necessary to deal with recalcitrant tenants, it would only be fair to expect to be able to fall back on the Courts.
    Instead, this has proven illusory, added to which all State and social parties strike ever-harder at the idea that being a landlord could in any way be regarded as a sensible option.
    No, few landlords enter this market with hugely altruistic intentions (although it IS a bonus where a home can be provided to a good tenant or a deserving case), but there is nothing wrong with a sound investment decision to buy a rental house simultaneously proving to be the means by which renters can secure good homes. The sheer profusion of investment landlords through accessibility to buy-to-let has ensured a measure of competitive pressure to upgrade the standard of properties available, and no good landlord hugely objects to continual improvements to the regulatory climate in order to weed out the bad. But this insane Government has meddled unnecessarily from a distinctly adversarial standpoint, and in addition created the climate in which the Courts, the social authorities, and ill-informed bodies like the CAB adopt that same position of antipathetic bias to landlords.
    To expand the point, the risks landlords now face as a result of this Government’s policies have become overwhelming. It is truly sickening to see young girls make lifestyle choices to have a baby precisely in order to secure a state-funded home (no male presence required for anything but the act of procreation – after that the world of tax-payers will provide!), and then actually withhold the rent from their landlords because this Government decided that the dignity of these irresponsible people demanded that they be given control over their affairs. The people who suffer from this appalling state-sponsored welfare dependance are those enlightened investors who thought it worthwhile to provide rental homes in the first place.
    I for one cannot imagine that a change of Government will easily rectify an ingrained inertia on the part of local authorities and Courts disinclined to act against non-paying tenants who in many cases are little more than fraudulent, but it is near-certain that the current mob have not the wit to even begin to comprehend the wreckage they are leaving in their wake.