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Are landlords money grabbing beasts?

BTL landlords are often portrayed as money grabbing, evil, exploitative beasts. We are accused of roaming the free market jungle, charging whatever rent we want, savaging the finances of our hapless tenants. Unsurprisingly, I would say that this is rubbish, a political and media misconception, or a convenient diversion from the truth – here’s why.

The letting market is very competitive

As a result of the 80’s buy-to-let lending initiative and the ground breaking Housing Act of 1988 is the private lettings market is a highly competitive place. Gone are the days of any half decent place getting snapped up immediately. There is significant competition between landlords to let their properties and this despite the London based media coverage of the subject keeps rents and rental increases, if they occur at all – small.

A breed of anonymous exploitative landlords

However, I will concede, there is one breed of landlord that are exploitative. These are not the BTL landlords who compete within the open, regulated private rented sector, but those operating in another sector, one lacking regulation and competition, these landlords are the suited, booted and wealthy individuals who exploit all of us, including us BTL landlords.

I’m talking about the world of clandestine freehold companies and their associated management companies.

Exploitative landlords and management companies

I speak from recent experience, as a buy-to-let landlord who has recently received a notice from one of the freeholders of an apartment block I have a rental flat in. The freeholders, who after 10 years of ownership have suddenly and for no apparent reason (other than they want more money) decided to charge a letting consent fee of £50 for the subletting of my leasehold apartment. They are unable to point out quite where in the lease there is provisions for charging this.

On another apartment I own in the centre of Nottingham I am currently being charged a £4,000 service charge for a 1 bed flat! Considering the dated state of the common areas, I really cannot see where this money is being spent. Admittedly, there is a car and pedestrian lifts which need servicing which are expensive, but other than that, for Nottingham this is an exorbitant amount of money. The freeholder and management company are closely related, so I suspect they will be making money on this.

My latest experience of an exploitative landlord and their property management company involves the actions of Hamilton King and the freeholder Southern Land Securities, both controlled by the same owner, one Mr Raymond Taube and family.

I will reveal more about them over the coming weeks, needless to say I have been held over a barrel whilst trying to sell my property.

A situation that resulted from me being honest on the information I proffered in relation to the sellers pack. Here is a lesson for other landlords.

The freeholder decided that my replacement UPVC windows were out of character with my maisonette property (despite the fact that they were designed to replicate the existing fenestration). This judgement was all made without visiting the property and despite the fact that FENSA certification was obtained to make the new UPVC windows compliant with building regulations.

As a result of this decision I was forced to agree to a deed of variation, costing me nearly a grand by the time their legal fees were thrown in together with a rehearing of the peppercorn ground rent that equated to a 1000% increase!

This is all perfectly legal, but is it remotely fair?

I obviously have legal redress but the costs to me of taking it through the Courts and going up against their in-house legal team would make it financially unrealistic. Also this kind of issue only comes to the fore on the attempted sale of a property, when timescale is critical to avoid losing a sale.

In my case, I lost 2 buyers, deterred by this action, then almost lost a 3rd potential buyer because of the risk of the potential delay.

Leaseholder landlords being overcharged on block insurance

Another way that landlords who own buy-to-let property are exploited are through being massively overcharged on their block insurance. The cost of the insurance is often hidden within the service charge. We have written previously about the extent that leaseholders are overcharged
and Alan Boswell Insurance have recently highlighted to us the FCA concerns on page 16 over the conflict of interest inherent in many Freeholders / management companies and the leaseholders that they act on behalf of.

The real landlord villains are…

It seems to me that the real landlord villains are not the buy-to-let investors who provide much needed rental property for the growing rental class to live in at no cost to the taxpayer. In fact we all know that following the recent tax rises, buy-to-let landlords are making an important and increasing contribution to the exchequer. ( Is it worth incorporating your rental business? )

No, the real crooks, are the band of secretive freehold landlords and their management companies who exploit the law to extract excessive charges and fees whilst knowing that legal challenge is beyond both the scope and resources of most leaseholders, including us buy-to-let landlords.

If you have had a similar experience or have a view please share them by posting a comment to help other landlords.


The Taube family -Southern Land Securities has created a lease for a loft space above flats creating themselves another company 2 years ago, so they did not give owners the right to buy. Bow E3 London. Planning is now in for an extra floor which will cause considerable noise pollution, removing pitched roof etc. Is there any place to get help advice to stop this?

The Taube family -Southern Land Securities has created a lease for a loft space above flats creating themselves another company 2 years ago, so they did not give owners the right to buy. Bow E3 London. Planning is now in for an extra floor which will cause considerable noise pollution, removing pitched roof etc. Is there any place to get help advice to stop this? Flats on the top floor will be unable to get tenants , no compensation offered.

Hello, I am also struggling with the Taube family and Southern Land Securities and Together property management. whilst trying to sell my flat, they demanded £5000 for the removal of a toilet (which was done by the previous owner, or a deed of variation would not be granted.
They have also given themselves a lease for the loft space, but do not seem to contribute to the service charge or did not consult the leaseholders before granting this lease.

I would be happy to work with someone to challenge them?

Anyone who has had issues with Southern Land Securities or Hamilton King, please get in contact with me. They have persistently wreaked havoc for the past 15 years, it is now time to challenge them.

Have you successfully managed to extend your lease? I’m planning of doing this soon with them also being the freehold owners of my property

There are two leasehold flats in our building. The loft if not demised to either flat. Southtern Land took a 999 lease out on the loft space two years ago without telling us. If we now wish to buy the freehold the amount being charged in order for the top floor flat to have the loft space demised to them is now an eye watering amount. Was it legal for them to take this lease out on the loft with advising us as leaseholders? Is what they are now expecting to charge for the freehold legal?
Help please?

Southern Land Securities and their Jersey registered management Together Properties (Both controlled by Raymond Taube) tried to serve a £70,000 section 20 notice for our block of 6 flats. They completely brushed off our concerns about expenditure which was crazy considering the work that needs doing. We hired an independent surveyor who produced a full report into the works required, he estimated the works to cost £36,000. Only after we got the council involved (who own a flat in the building) did Together Property Management lower their demand.

Even on the annual service charge everything is at least 30% hire than it should be. I would highly suggest everything Together Property and Southern Land do is highly scrutinized and disputed.

Having issues with the same companies. Together property management and huge maintenance costs and major works. Eye watering amounts of money crippling my ownership of a small 2 bedroom flat. Which I now can’t sell because of planned huge costs.

I live in Southampton. Together Property Management. Homeless tenants are neighbours in our block. So far we have had 2 Police call outs, 4 main lock door problems- lock tampering to allow other homeless people to enter- a fire. The fire has cost £2544. The Police, Fire Brigade, Southampton City Council have been notified. Property Redress Scheme – to whom they belong were not interested. Innocent me thought this situation can be solved. One year later i have realised this is the perfect money earner. As far as selling the property is concerned it will probably have to be auctioned. The wider problem is that i have found no blacklist for residential managing agents. I know ARMA Assn Res. Managing Agents has awards for best agents. Perhaps this is only way forward.. Basically, at this point i feel the whole thing is a lost cause.

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