Forget the wicked stepmother, ‘wicked’ landlord gets a bashing
Landlord bashing seems to be a popular sport at the moment with those renting out properties in the private rented sector in the UK seeing assaults from many vantage points.
They believe they are being bashed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in terms of tax, accused of renting too many homes to people on housing benefit and regularly get a bad press for the state of homes in the rental sector.
Since April of this year anyone entering the buy to let sector faces paying an extra 3% stamp duty charge on the purchase and from next year the current tax relief on a buy to let mortgage will gradually be reduced until it meets the basic tax rate in 2020.
Various commentators have warned that this will mean higher rents as landlords will pass on any ‘extra cost’ to tenants and deter new landlords from coming into the sector. The tax relief change is being challenged and a court hearing is expected soon to see if campaigners can launch a legal challenge on the move.
A few days ago PRS landlords were accused of ‘lining their pockets’ by renting to people on housing benefit. According to the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations providing low cost rental housing, the amount of tax payer’s money going to private landlords has increased twofold in the last decade to £9.3 billion.
The NHF claims that as private rents are generally higher than social housing provided by associations this is not good news for the taxpayer and that this set of affairs is ‘madness’.
But the National Landlords Association (NLA) believes the figures are out of date and that numbers are now falling and that anyway PRS landlords should not be criticised as they are providing much needed homes to rent as the social sector cannot keep up with demand.
There can be no doubt that finding a good landlord and finding good tenants is not always easy and there are rogues on both sides. As someone who has bought a home after almost three years of renting I have personally experienced the worries a tenant can go through and I think this should be taken into account more.
Yes, we know that landlords can face nightmare tenants who trash properties and don’t pay their rent on time but I think someone should also be speaking up for those renting a property who spend time and money making it a home. It is shocking, for example, that new research shows that the majority, 70%, of private sector tenants in the UK are worried that the deposits they pay for their rented home are not protected.
The research also showed that only 50% of tenants received confirmation that their deposit is in a protection scheme and three quarters of tenants believe their landlord, or agent, will try and keep the deposit at the end of the tenancy.
On top of this a further piece of research has found that over a quarter of tenants feel that they were rushed into entering their tenancy agreement and more than half regretted renting their current property.
The four bedroom house I rented was probably at the better end of most people’s experiences but the garage door was rotten and despite requests for it to be replaced it was eventually targeted by local thieves. I went past it the other day. It is currently being got ready for the next tenants. The garage door has been patched up not replaced, the grass we cut the day before leaving has been allowed to get knee high, the rooms have been repainted with the same cheap paint that came off when you tried to wipe a mark off a wall or door, the rendering that has been coming off the back wall since before we moved in is still falling of the wall and a lovely tree in the front garden has been hacked so much that I will be surprised if it survives. I suspect the chronic damp in the bathroom has not been treated and the rusty bath not replaced or the leaking waste pipe fixed or the cracked wash hand basin replaced, all issues that were there long before we moved in.
This is not a case of a rogue landlord but it is a case of a landlord charging more to a new tenant (I know this from the advert) without actually addressing any of the issues that have affected the property for many years. He also has an angry neighbour who is concerned that damp is getting underneath the render and affecting his property.
If even the better landlords scrimp and avoid spending much needed money on their properties I can have little sympathy with them.
All should be aspiring to provide the best home possible to their tenants and those moaning about a few tax changes should get off their high horse and make sure they are doing their best to improve the UK’s PRS if they want to gain the backing of the general public.