Private Rented Sector Quoted in the Media

Recent press comments from me on the private rented sector…..

Private Rented Sector Quoted in the Media

On the policies of successive governments towards the private rented sector: “….Too often policy is confused and contradictory and too often the changes that have been made offer far too little to landlords and tenants in terms of improving the private rented sector.”

On universal (all borough) licensing of landlords: “… In the absence of anything else I can see why some local authorities might want to do this. But it is a heck of a sledgehammer approach which all the criminal landlords will ignore anyway, whilst the honest landlords sign up and pass much of the cost straight onto tenants. A more sensible approach would be for local authorities to use the powers they already have but pass legislation allowing them to impose far heavier fines on criminal landlords as well as letting the town halls keep all the money raised from such fines. Also, requiring disclosure of the landlords name as part of the council tax system would save everyone all the trouble that comes with having to set up a licensing system to find out the same information.”

On Article 4 restrictions: “…..On one hand, with the changes to housing benefit entitlement, all single people under 35 are suddenly pushed into the house share market whilst on the other hand and at the same time, many town halls restrict the number of shared houses that are available through the application of Article 4 restrictions. Bonkers policy and not exactly joined up.”

On housing benefit changes: “….Following the outrcy over the housing benefit bill, successive governments cut the levels of benefit, imposed absolute caps and stopped payments direct to landlords. As a result, private landlords increasingly deserted the sector. And so we now see local government offering cash inducements in the form of large direct payments to landlords to try to get them to let to people who are dependent on housing benefit, and who now have few housing options. We have come full circle and got absolutely nowhere.”

On mortgage lenders: “…. Most of the main lenders have just tried to bolt buy to let mortgages onto their residential products. Too many of them have failed to innovate or restructure their mortgage products to meet the needs of landlords.”

On mortgage lenders and benefit tenants; “…It is disgraceful that many lenders do not allow landlords who have mortgages with them to let to tenants who are on housing benefits. As well as being morally questionable, no evidence has ever been produced that definitively proves that low income and benefit tenants have worse arrears rates. The government should bring the offending lenders to account over this or at least ask them to justify their stance.”

On letting agency fees and tenants: “… It seems that too many letting agents are hardly being clear on the fees they charge to tenants in their online adverts. The ASA should be looking into this.

Also, letting agency fees charged to tenants are often ludicrous and bear no relation to the actual cost, plus it looks a lot like double charging to us (as landlords are also charged for the same services). The only fair fee that tenants should have to pay would be a fair cost for referencing and half the cost of an inventory.

As many letting agents have gone over the top on their charges to tenants, they can hardly be surprised if and when the government overreacts and bans all fees charged to tenants in England and Wales.”

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