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Landlord Christmas List

Bah humbug! I love Christmas. Too much food. Too much drink. Too many of those same old Christmas songs. God bless Noddy Holder; I baby sat for him once and he was a nice guy ( a true story ); but if I hear him exclaim “so here it is Merry Xmas” one more time…….!

The good thing about the whole Christmas break is that it does give you time to reflect. What have I achieved……..probably not as much as we’d want, could I have done better, always! Time even to ask the question what are my targets for next year.

Next year, will be momentous. Not least because I hope with all my heart that we get rid of the current lot of political jokers. After 13 years of fantasy economics, pretending that public spending is ‘investment’ and that it is financed out of ‘thin air’ we will all be faced with tough real decisions. Gone are the days of Tony Blurrrrrr economics.

The reality is that who ever gets in will have to cut public spending & cut hard. The political parties are even now looking at drawing up their manifestos and presenting their policies and wish lists.

Given that it is the festive season and in light of the impending General Election, I thought I’d have a go at drawing up my own landlord’s Christmas wish list. Feel free to add in anything that you think I might have forgotten:

1. The end to none direct payments of housing benefits

The introduction of the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and the removal of direct payments to landlords letting to tenants on benefits have caused more consternation than any other issue. The Tories have promised to reinstate it. Who ever gets into power, too many landlords are refusing to let to tenants on benefits depriving them of a real choice of accommodation and too many landlords are getting caught out by scamming irresponsible tenants not paying their rent and moving on. I want the government to reinstate direct benefit payments to landlords.

2. No more regulation

In recent years landlords have been subjected to a barrage of regulation with arguably little or no benefit for either tenants or landlords. We have had the licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

The introduction of HIPs when marketing property for sale, the requirement of an EPC when marketing a property for rent, the introduction of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).

Let’s bring an end to this avalanche of legislation. I hope that governments will accept that a free, vibrant market in rental accommodation will do more to deliver quality rental accommodation to tenants than a stream of petty box ticking exercises foisted on landlords by under worked bureaucrats.

3. A recognition of what landlords do.

It was only a couple of years ago that landlords were being berated by all and sundry for being societies great pariah; crowding out first time buyers and becoming property millionaires off the back of their poor starving tenants. The reality in these austere times is that landlords provide accommodation for the great and the good from humble bed sits to luxury London penthouse apartments. The private rental sector provides accommodation for between 11-12% of households at NO EXPENSE to the public purse. It would be nice for the government and society to acknowledge this occasionally.

4. An increase in the maximum rent that can be charged using an AST

Currently the Housing Act restricts the creation of Assured Shorthold Tenancies to those paying less than £25,000 per year in rent. The logic for this was that when the legislation was bought in; it was thought that anybody paying this kind of rent must have been a multimillionaire and therefore easily able to afford to pay a whole team of legal advisers to draw up a rental agreement. Anybody living and renting in central London today knows that renting a property for just over £2000 per month is no longer at the luxury end of the market. It’s just as likely to be a modest flat in an average part of town.

Rather than lots of headline catching bits of regulation; why not just keep the proven bits of legislation up to date. I want the government to amend the Housing Act and increase the annual limit of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) to £50,000.

5. The anomaly of s.21 & s.8 Possession claims system

I’ve recently written about what happens when the tenant stops paying their rent?

During this process it came to light that one anomaly of the current system is that whilst landlords can make a possession claim online using the Possession Claims On Line system (PCOL). However, this route is only available for section 8 Possession claims. Why?! Why is it not possible to do the same for section 21 claims? My final request therefore is that landlords have the option to seek possession for their rental properties using the PCOL system for accelerated possession.

Do you have anything you want to add to a landlords christmas wish list?

With the election looming – who knows what will drop down a landlord’s chimney in the New Year!

Results from the latest Young Index show that ‘wider choice of mortgage finance’ is top of our residential Landlords’ Christmas Wish List.

This quarter’s finding from Young Group’s market sentiment survey indicates that despite a small increase in the volume of mortgage products on the market, increasingly, all landlords want for Christmas is a wider choice of appropriate mortgage finance.

It was the top choice of landlords, with 39% putting it top of their wish list (compared to 28% in Q4 2008). Perhaps in response to recent housing price data, which has seen stabilisation and small rises, ‘house price stability’ was knocked from last year’s number one position by ‘wider mortgage choice’.Also more important to landlords this year was their own ‘job security’ indicating that there is still uncertainty over employment in the minds of residential property investors. Those choosing ‘job security’ as the most desirable option rose by 6% to 27% in the past 12 months, and shifted up from third to second place on the Young Index Landlords’ Christmas Wish List.

It seems that the landlords questioned are yet to get behind the 1808 Coalition’s push for stamp duty reform. It languishes at the bottom of the Landlords’ Christmas Wish List with just 4% picking it as their first choice.

Landlords were also relatively uninterested in ‘further reductions in base rate’ with only 7% putting an interest rate cut at the top of their list; unsurprising with base rate remaining at an all time low of 0.5%. Chris

To be treated fairly by CAB and other such organisations that landlords
are humans too! Too often, these organisations treat you as scum because
you are a landlord (and thus the devil) yet they do not understand we have
issues too. We have debts (run up by non paying tenants) and we also would
like a bit of free help from time to time! Sam

Again and again a wider choice of BTL Mortgage products is needed.

Having just tried to remortgage one property I discovered that, of the 43 products on my brokers laptop screen, most of them are the same product with different names!!

When interest rates begin to rise, and the many landlords who are currently doing OK on lender’s standard variable rates, need to re-mortgage to stabilise their outgoings, they will be in for a shock.

All current products require a minimum 25% deposit!! Many landlords bought property with a 15% or even 10% deposit in the period 2002-2007 and, in many cases, their deposit has vanished into thin air.

The government and the developers between them forged ahead building huge numbers of 2 bed flats in blocks just to increase 1) the governments need to provide housing, any housing, and 2) the developers profits. The landlords were encouraged to buy and now they are stuck with properties that the lenders don’t want to lend on!

What will happen when rates rise?? The fact is many many landlords will be repossessed and many tenants will lose their homes!!

Happy New Year! Cheryl

I think that they should change the building regulations relating to the converting of properties. I have recently applied to change a 2 room office in to a one bed flat – you would not believe the legislation involved – I think they must be under the impression that I redeveloping the city of London. They want full plans so you have to ay an architect when a sketch on a fag packet will do, they want the floors ripped up to add insulation, they want the walls re covered with insulation, they want the windows double glazed – they won’t beleive that the ceilings and all the party walls are previously done to meet the fire regs (in 2004) and want holes smashed in them to prove it – and the costs for plans, saps, epc’s, Part p electrics, gas safety etc etc – and we are suppposed to be providing affordable housing – how the hell can we do that with all the associated costs. Whilst we don’t want to provide sub standard accomodation as that does not do any of us any good (this is a lovely Victorian building with all the associated charm) there has to be a balance – OH, they also wanted to know what vehicle washing facilities were available on site and what provision for the construction waste from the site (all the waste went in to 3 x 25kg rubble sacks) This government, as the unions have been curbed, have introduced protectionism through legislation, particularly in the public sector and as such have now put their voting public at risk. They do not want anyone to get on in this world unless they are politicians with their hand in the public till.!!!!!
Regards Ken Mayo

Landlords are very heavily regulated and act like a proper business however we are not treated like a normal business.

I think this should be top of your list with out a doubt:-

Property purchased for the sole purpose of lettings to allow the application of roll over relief.

This change would help both landlords and tenants as it would allow landlords to change their portfolio make up over time without being heavily penalised and the net effect would be an increase in rental property choice for tenants.

Mark Garner

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