‘Stu­dent land­lords are be­ing de­monised like wartime Jews’

Prop­erty let­tings owner’s star­tling com­par­i­son in busi­ness rates row

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Double Murder - One Year On - By Gerry War­ren gwar­ren@thek­m­group.co.uk @Ger­ry_war­ren

A buy-to-let prop­erty mogul has likened the treat­ment of stu­dent land­lords in Can­ter­bury to that of the Jews in Nazi Ger­many.

Bob Ley­don, who runs city-based Ley­don Let­tings, claims the sit­u­a­tion is “rem­i­nis­cent of wartime German ha­tred” to­wards “de­cent Jewish peo­ple”. He made the alarm­ing com­par­i­son af­ter the lo­cal au­thor­ity took steps to try and make land­lords pay busi­ness rates to help cover £5.5 mil­lion lost through stu­dent coun­cil tax ex­emp­tions.

Mr Ley­don, who has more than 50 prop­er­ties in Can­ter­bury and man­ages many more, said: “Rem­i­nis­cent of wartime German ha­tred, gen­er­ated by the then German gov­ern­ment against de­cent Jewish peo­ple, the UK gov­ern­ment has pan­dered to pop­ulist, vote-win­ning, mis­per­ceived community ha­tred against de­cent, hard­work­ing UK land­lords.”

He later ad­mit­ted his com­ments would be seen as “too strong”, but says he is frus­trated that the “once no­ble” po­si­tion of land­lord had be­come so stig­ma­tised.

He said: “I’m not ad­vo­cat­ing that it’s the same ha­tred to­wards land­lords – who would ar­gue that? It’s not on the same level. But there is a mantra that bad things hap­pen to good peo­ple who do noth­ing.”

Hit­ting back at claims by city coun­cil­lors that land­lords are mak­ing “huge prof­its” in the city, he ac­cused them of “re­venge pol­i­tics”.

Mr Ley­don, who has been in the prop­erty let­tings busi­ness for 30 years, says they are be­ing “un­fairly de­monised” by “mis­in­formed, pop­ulist rhetoric de­void of un­der­stand­ing”.

He said: “Land­lords al­ready pay puni­tive taxes and many only sur- vive due to the low in­ter­est rates be­cause, like mine, their prop­er­ties are mort­gaged. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. There are huge risks and sac­ri­fices in­volved.

“Many land­lords only sur­vive be­cause of the low in­ter­est rates.”

It is not the first time Mr Ley­don has made the war-time Ger­many com­par­i­son in de­fence of land­lords.

Com­ment­ing on plans to curb tax breaks for buy-to-let land­lords in Oc­to­ber 2015, he wrote “Hitler ap­plied sim­i­lar il­log­i­cal poli­cies to­wards de­cent Jewish peo­ple.”

In an­other ar­ti­cle on the same topic on land­lord­to­day.co.uk, he com­mented: “Re­sent­ment pol­i­tics was adopted by Hitler against suc­cess­ful and honourable – but hated, Jewish peo­ple. Think about what this says about our gov­ern­ment and sadly our­selves as peo­ple?”

His lat­est out­burst fol­lows a de­ci­sion by the cash-strapped city coun­cil to au­tho­rise its leader Si­mon Cook to lobby the gov­ern­ment for a change in the rules so prop­erty land­lords will have to pay busi­ness rates. It fol­lows heavy cuts to gov­ern­ment grants to help lo­cal au­thor­i­ties cover money lost through stu­dent coun­cil tax ex­emp­tions, forc­ing them to find new ways of claw­ing it back.

What do you think? Email ken­tishgazette@thek­m­group. co.uk or write to Gazette House, 5-8 Boor­man Way, Wraik Hill, Whit­stable, CT5 3SE.

Prop­erty land­lord Bob Ley­don

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