Striking a successful balance between landlords and tenants

It is right that the law requires landlords to treat their tenants well and to stick to the promises they make in their contracts with tenants. There have been too many cases of bad landlords who have failed to maintain properties to a decent standard, or who have sought to evict tenants for no good reason.
The government is currently reviewing the balance of the law to see if tenants can be offered more security. It is after all their homes we are talking about, and it is disruptive and upsetting if people have to move out of a place they need and like living in.
In the review the government also needs to take into account how landlords are likely to respond. Tenants have more freedom, more choice and more affordable rents if there are enough landlords wishing to make property available. Some overseas markets have been badly damaged by offering strict rent controls and other advantages for tenants, only to discover the supply of rented accommodation falls, creating scarcity and upward pressure on the general rent level.
Today both landlord and tenant can agree to a rental contract for a stated period. The landlord may have good reason why they want the property back at the end of the specified time. If this is no longer possible more potential landlords may be put off, concerned that they cannot get their property back.
We have already seen a contraction in the supply of more property to let by the tax attack on buy to let investments by individuals. The disallowance of mortgage interest relief and the higher stamp duties on such investments has put some people off contemplating put their savings into such a venture. More emphasis has been placed on institutional and company landlords, who will in turn be concerned if contracts are too restricted.
I want tenants to get a good deal, and want there to be sensible legal protections against poor or bad landlords. The government for its part needs to recognise that the best way for tenants to get good deals and have choices is to encourage a larger and healthier private rented market. You do not achieve this by overtaxing provision, nor by intervening too much in the contracts willing landlords want to exchange with willing tenants.
I am not myself a tenant, nor do I have a buy to let investment.

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111 Comments

  1. Pominoz
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    Sir John,

    It seems to me that today’s post, and those of the past couple of days, albeit each an item of real interest, are perhaps a case of “Don’t mention the war” or, in this case, Brexit. Agreed, there are a great many issues of current importance, but none greater than the travesty which is Brexit. For this reason, this comment relates to the issue which prompts many to visit your site and adds to ‘off topic’ suggestions made yesterday.

    I see there are moves afoot within elements of the Conservative Party to prevent a Brexiteer becoming the next Prime Minister. How ludicrous this is when there is already evidence of a total collapse of the Tory vote due to the complete mess made by this faction of MPs, ‘led’ by the utterly hopeless and treacherous May.

    Following its launch, the new Brexit Party have already announced that such self-serving individuals will avoided as candidates, seeking, as they are, people with demonstrated business or practical experience. With their pro democracy and sovereignty stance, that party deserves to succeed and I wish them well.

    The Conservatives, however, must not allow the ‘wet’ majority to orchestrate the future (catastrophic) direction of the Party. Those of us who regularly read and contribute to your website invariably wish to see a successful resurgence of the Party led as Prime Minister by someone with similar proven practical and business acumen. This must be someone who has consistently demonstrated a determination to achieve Brexit proper, as envisaged by those voting ‘Leave’ in the referendum. It must be someone who has not wavered by supporting the putrid WA in any one of the HoC votes. It must be someone who has clarity and consistency of mind who can articulate in a way which can be understood by all. In my opinion, it must be someone just like you, Sir John.

    Get rid of May. Be that candidate for PM and give hope to Conservative voters.

    Reply I do not write about Brexit every day because my views and aims for an early and clean Brexit do not change, and because it is important that government is not paralysed by the rows and delays. The whole point of Brexit is self government so we need to show how we will use those powers and what kind of a society and government we want when we can choose.I am writing for tomorrow about the issue of Mrs Mays continued leadership as there are some developments relevant to tuesday’s agenda to consider.

    • Pominoz
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:29 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply
      Thankyou, Sir John. I very much look forward to reading tomorrow’s article.

      • Hope
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 7:31 am | Permalink

        Tenants should be evicted more easily where they do not treat the property like their own. Tory mass immigration has caused huge problems as did selling council houses to get votes rather than provide homes. Council houses should not be for life it should be means tested for those in need. Why should some have a cheap home for life and at the end be provided the same care home as someone, who would be forced by May, to sell their home to live in the same care home. After being prudent hard working and scrimping to buy their own home! Tories have no values or principles of home ownership like everything else. No joined up thinking whatsoever. Decimating savers into buy to let then to hammer them! Tories are the party of the feckless, wasters. Who supports workers, strivers and the prudent? Certainly not Tories.

        You cannot row back thirty nine years of liberalisation of the socialist Tory party. Hague started the top down ruling if the party gradually forcing the supporters, members and activists having no voice or veto over key issues like policy, MPs or its leader. This was to March left. Entryism started with the likes of Ken Clarke and co. Like most leaftys they always smear anyone against their view as if there is something wrong with them.

        • a-tracy
          Posted April 24, 2019 at 9:59 am | Permalink

          I know people with £200,000 council houses they bought for £20,000 after never paying a penny themselves for that house as they lived off housing benefit all their lives. They then partner up when the child benefits stop some even rent out their ex-council houses for £750 per month to other claimants on housing benefit.

          Too many social houses are reserved for friends too, this needs checking, how many are friends and families of employees of housing associations and councils.

      • James1
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        Sir John,
        If you as a Conservative Party MP representing in excess of 75,000 people cannot get from the Attorney General, who is another Conservative Party MP, the answer to some perfectly reasonable and insightful questions about Mrs May’s dire draft withdrawal treaty, what does that say to the ‘average’ person about our dysfunctional government. Is it any wonder that both Conservative and Labour leaning members of the electorate are turning in droves to the Brexit Party.

        Reply Yes, he should reply more promptly. I will chase his office again tomorrow. I guest he finds answering my points difficult.

        • Hope
          Posted April 22, 2019 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

          I suspect he will to answer claiming it would lead you have the legal advice he provided the govt. He said as much in parliament. Perhaps you were not listening? However, against that parliament then demanded his all legal advice and he failed to produce it all. The govt only produced a small amount. Perhaps you could ask him for the full legal advice which would then answer all your points, plus a lot more that you did not ask about.

    • Ian wragg
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:33 am | Permalink

      It has already been decided that the loss of the Tory Party is a price worth paying to be forever in the EU.

      • MPC
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 7:48 am | Permalink

        Yes, if the Government can’t persuade Labour to back the WA it plans ‘binding indicative votes’. Unless they include a vote on a coherent option of managed non WA Brexit with side agreements, there will just be several Remain oriented motions decided by the Speaker, none of which will comprise a coherent change of Government direction. Then after the votes Mrs May can say ‘the House has spoken’, there is no majority for other than the status quo.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 8:23 am | Permalink

        No the Tory party need to be taken over by the sound wing and become a low tax, small government, freedom of choice real Brexit party. Rather than one led by halfwitted, PC, tax to death, socialists, identity politics pushing, pathetic & fraudulent remainders.

        • Ed Mahony
          Posted April 22, 2019 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

          @Lifelogic,

          ‘Socialists’

          – It was the secular, anti-Christian French Revolution that first gave us socialism proper and which we’re still paying the price for now.

          • Ed Mahony
            Posted April 22, 2019 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

            – And it was the secular, anti-Christian French Revolution that first gave us secular Nationalism (as opposed to the Christian virtue or Patriotism which Queen Elizabeth I, Edmund Burke, and others would have believed in).

            Nationalism which people such as Napoleon exploited and then Hitler (and not forgetting the direct link between The French Revolution and Communism and The Soviet Union).

            I write this because you talk a lot against religion but without taking into account the great ‘sins’ of non-religious and anti-theism regimes from the French Revolution on.

            (And just as I acknowledge the sins of religion or false religion, I hope you would acknowledge the great things religion has done for this country – through history all the way back to the Middle Ages).

            Best wishes.

          • Mitchel
            Posted April 23, 2019 at 9:55 am | Permalink

            The Paris Commune of 1870/71 following on from the crushing of France in the Franco-Prussian War probably had more of an impact.At Lenin’s funeral,apparently,his coffin was draped with the Communard flag and I believe Yuri Gagarin went into space with a fragment of an original Communard banner in his Soyuz capsule.

            The perversion of revolution by militarists has a name in the Marxist-Leninist lexicon “Bonapartism”-a cardinal sin-and is why the Soviet aligned states had a strict separation of Party and military apparatus until General Jarulzelski’s coup against the Party in Poland-tolerated by Moscow because he did not subsequently deviate from their line.

          • Ed Mahony
            Posted April 23, 2019 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

            @Mitchel

            Really interesting, thanks (didn’t know anything about this)

      • Steve
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        Ian Wragg

        ……if that’s the case, they must be solidly welded to the corrupt EU.

        The truth will come out in time, hopefully before the shysters are deceased.

    • JoolsB
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      Totally agree Pominoz. We need to keep talking about Brexit until it is achieved. Although John clearly isn’t one of them,May and the majority of MPs must be delighted that Brexit is no longer prominent in the news. In their deluded minds, no doubt they will be of the opinion that by kicking it into the long grass until Halloween it will all have blown over by then and be long forgotten. Mission accomplished.

      As far as future leadership is concerned, it will be more about what is in their interests than the party’s interests. A poll by Conservative Home this morning puts Boris Johnson in a clear lead at 32.6% followed by Raab at 14.72 % followed by backstabber Gove at 8.42% but will they listen? Not a chance. They haven’t listened to the grass roots on anything so far and would rather destroy the party (which they will) than give us Boris and a true Brexit.

      • JoolsB
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 8:32 am | Permalink

        Should have said what is in their interests rather than the party’s interests but more importantly the country’s interests.

    • SueW
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      My life and mental state have been markedly better whilst parliament has not been sitting and I have not had to awaken every morning, after a Brexit-nightmare filled repose, in trepidation of what new disaster and ruinous decision those vile and evil individuals have imposed on my beloved country.
      I live in fear of tomorrow.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      The Telegraph reported yesterday that amongst Tory party councillors, Boris Johnson was the most popular choice for party leader, with the Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage second. It doesn’t take much by way of deduction to see the cause and the size of the problem, and the most amicable solution to put it right.

      May needs to go now and take Hammond, Gauke, Liddington, Rudd, Stewart, et al with her! Who knows, we might even get a government in their wake that can give us a decent housing policy because the present one is causing much disaffection and resentment. It certainly doesn’t promote a settled community or community cohesion!

      Clearly, Tories with their feet firmly on the ground and getting the most reliable feedback on the doorstep would prefer it if ‘wet’ remainers did not apply for the top job. But then, these councillors are only Tory footsoldiers who meet the voters each day and do the party’s dirty work. They take it in the ear all the time for May and her useless cohorts. What do councillors know. To the cynical arrogant party hierarchy, they are just expendable cannon fodder to be used then abused!

    • Brigham
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      During ww2 I heard a lot of guns in the blitz. They didn’t shoot down many enemy planes, but the effect on morale was enormous. I think your continuous comments on Brexit have the same effect.

    • Andy
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      I am delighted that you recognise that it’s a war.

      It is also not one you will win.

      Sure – you’ll win the odd battle but, in the end, Brexiteers will be wiped out.

      • John C.
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        Who but the charming Andy would use the phrase “wiped out”?

        • Jagman84
          Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

          ‘Andy’ avoids the fact that the elderly are becoming an ever increasing percentage of the population, due to increased life spans and a falling birthrate in the indigenous population. It is the standard reason trotted out for needing to import the third world into the UK. By following ‘Andy’s’ reasoning, there will be more and more leave-minded people with every passing day.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

          He has a hint of Stalin about him John C.
          Show trials are desired.
          Any different views to his are to be stamped out.
          Democracy to be replaced by new young elite of know it alls.
          And the phrase “wiped out”
          All very sinister.

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

        I fear that Andy is the authentic voice of Remain.

        Look.

        All we did was use the ballot box peacefully and after we were invited to do so.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

      Agreed, there are a great many issues of current importance, but none greater than the travesty which is Brexit.

      I think the future of the planet and the species that live on it are a bit more important than bloody Brexit!

      We need more ‘green crap’ as it is often referred to on here. We need to not take a chance with the future.

      On a personal level we need to:

      Not buy food that has been airfreighted.
      Reduce consumption of meat – particularly beef and lamb.
      Improve the insulation of our homes.
      Drive less.
      Buy better quality goods and consume them less often.

      The government needs to:
      Incentivise EVERYONE to get solar panels on their roof
      Invest a lot more in renewable energy
      Invest a lot more in storage of energy
      Incentivise every farmer and landowner to grow trees around the perimeter of every field.

      There’s lots (more) that could be done. It seems some young people are going to show us that we are going to act now. Full stop. No argument. No prevarication. No bull about how much we have reduced carbon emissions.

      And it is not time for defeatism and the usual bolleaux about ‘I bet you drive a car’ and ‘we only produce 3% of global emissions’. It’s time to act and time for an end to the endless bull**** about ‘green crap’. We need ‘green crap’ and plenty of it.

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 24, 2019 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        I read in a tweet response from a farmer to Jeremy Corbyn’s article about global warming causing the peat fires around Saddleworth and Yorkshire, that sheep farming used to be allowed on this land and now it isn’t and this also stops the control these wildfires. Perhaps we should listen to our farmers and stop just following bad ideas.

  2. eeyore
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    Yields on residential letting range from about 3% (in London) to 8% (in Scotland). Off that come agent’s fees, insurance, dilapidation, bad debts etc.

    In a falling market such as London and the SE at present, landlords stand to lose money overall.

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:43 am | Permalink

      eyesore

      “Yields on residential letting ….”

      Do not forget over many decades there has also been huge capital appreciation, although not guaranteed of course,

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      Indeed especially as they now have to pay tax on ‘profits’ they are not even making as they cannot deduct some of their interest costs. Plus they have to pay an addition 3% stamp duty on purchases. This is not sustainable but people need properties to rent. Not everyone wants to buy and buying short term makes little sense with such high turnover taxes of up to 15%.

      A further problem landlords have is that the legal system is slow, ineffective and expensive when tenants stop paying rents or damage their properties and often then disappear or worse still fail to leave.

      The new proposals will damage the market hugely for both tenants and landlords.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        The best protection for tenants is plenty of other affordable properties to rent if they do not like they one they are currently renting. The government proposals will make things far worse in this regard as it will restrict supply by deterring renting. Government regulation almost always makes things worse for all but the parasitic lawyers and bureaucrats.

        The same is true for employment laws which kill job availability.

    • Nicholas Murphy
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 7:04 am | Permalink

      And what is the rate of home-ownership in the capital? If it’s going up, even slowly, then I’ll resist the temptation to shed tears at the plight of wailing landlords.
      P.S. I should point out that I’m probably the rightiest right-winger on this site. Home-ownership makes for good neighbourhoods. Have you seen how people treat rental cars?

      • eeyore
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        I was just pointing out that residential letting is not a thriving business at present. The immediate result is a shortage of rental properties, as is happening right now in London.

        Another knock-on effect is poorer maintenance. Yields as modest as 3% gross leave no leeway to look after property or tenants.

        Residential landlords (of whom I am not one) provide a necessary product for society. The capital investment is large, the returns uncertain and at the mercy of political events. Yet home ownership is not suitable for many, especially the young whose lives are not settled. Removing flexibility from the housing market is thoroughly bad policy which will damage most those whom it aspires to help.

        • a-tracy
          Posted April 24, 2019 at 10:10 am | Permalink

          But these flats and homes in London have been rising in value eeyore by 30% and more in just a couple of years, so Landlords have plenty of stake in the property if they want to cash in. I know Landlords in London that just don’t have to bother renting they just keep apartments empty and take the gains after five years and that is the problem that tight rental restrictions will cause, tests on tenants ability to pay will increase, the self-employed will struggle to get rentals off decent landlords.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      Especially as bank lending terms, fees and margins are more onerous thank to daft red tape and a lack of competition. Due to Hammond, Carey and the EU.

  3. GilesB
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    The economic redevelopment of our inner cities cannot be just through the rebuilding and renovation of isolated buildings (or floors in the case of flats). The best redevelopments come from a transformation of an entire street or block.

    In the past some property developers have had the patience to accumulate adjacent properties as freeholds and leaseholds become available. While they wait for enough other properties to become available, they have let out their initial purchases on short-term terminally leases. If they are not able to do so in future they will have only two alternatives a). Leave their initial purchases unoccupied for years or decades, leading to greater inner city decay and lost occupancy opportunities or b). Stop large scale transformations and focus on inefficient isolated piecemeal of single dwellings.

    A third alternative I suppose is a massive expansion of Urban Renewal Authorities: but in the UK the state has a poor record of building housing that people want to live in, even at highly subsidised prices.

  4. GilesB
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    That is Urban Renewal Authorities who could, given the political will, assemble economically and environmentally viable plots quickly using compulsory purchase powers. Or would the proposed new legislation also ban all powers of compulsory purchase!

  5. Stephen Priest
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    All a landlord wants from tenants is that they pay their rent on time, look after the property, and don’t upset the neighbours.

    If this happens it is very unlikely landlords would serve notice unless they want to sell the property or move back in themselves.

    Having to go to court every time you want to get you property back will clogged up the courts, take a long time, cost a lot of money and cause a lot of stress.

    This ill conceived plan will help bad tenants and not good tenants.

    • jerry
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      @Stephen Priest; You are probably correct about the many Landlords but the trouble starts when a Landlords (read, owners) are largely absentee and reliant on managing agents who are only interested in maximising their cut from both landlord and tenant – even more so when they know that there is a shortage of local properties for rent or indeed sale.

      There needs to be, if anything, far stringent regulation of these managing agents in my opinion.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

        I’d go along with that. Management companies are responsible for the properties either side of my home. One is very decent and only has responsible people who are not a problem to anyone. By contrast, the other side will have any old rif-raf who have parties all through the night on some occasions, they are very slow to do any remedial work, and a Leylandii tree that now hangs two-thirds over my garden is big enough to be seen from space!

        The local authority is not interested.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      Dear Stephen–It is absurd that somebody letting his property should on the expiry of the agreed contract need any reason whatsoever, never mind a “good” one, to regain use of his property. I read that some forgettable Government nobody has squawked about “eviction” at the end of the contract which is a criminal misuse of words. As somebody who rented and then had to leave seems obvious to me that landlords should be encouraged so that, of course, there are more of them.

    • Richard416
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      A good tenant needs very little protection from the law, because any half decent landlord will do anything to keep them. A good tenant looks after the property as required bythe tenancy agreement, keeps the garden tidy if there is one, and does not annoy the neighbours. When anything fails he tries sensible things to fix it. I mean things like bleeding a radiator or cleaning a gas cooker ingniter so it sparks.

      Bad tenants need protection because they ARE bad. They break things, they let the gardens become overgrown, they are filthy people and the like. Others ewnt several houses and fill them with sub-tenants without the approval of the landlord, who miraculously disappear when the agent inspects the property – not noticing the beds in every room. If anything landlords need more protection from them.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 23, 2019 at 4:22 am | Permalink

        Exactly.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      Seconded. Once a term of contract is agreed it should be stuck to by both sides. The tenant is already usually absolved of the risk and worry of repairs, maintenance etc., so it’s little enough to ask that a landlord should be able to recover their property at the end of the contract.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      Exactly and they must know this. But it will make money for parasitic lawyers, courts and similar. Also these “Conservative” Ministers think they can buy votes by thieving assets of private landlords in this way.

      Also they assume it will distract attention from their fraudulent Brexit betrayal. The special place in hell that Donald Tusk referred to should be for such people. These Ministers are no better than Corbyn and Milliband who would also rob landlords in this way to try to buy the votes of tenants.

      It does not even help tenants in reality.

  6. Mark B
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Hotels have a Five Star rating system. So why not Landlords and Tenants ? Good Landlords can command better fees, and good tenants can command access to better properties. Let the market regulate this way and we will be free of the dross on both sides and have a better fairer market.

    Government intervention is not the answer.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Mark, good points raised there. I have rented and always left the place better than I found it. There are many landlords having to put up with tenants who don’t pay their tent on time and often trash the place. I know two people this has happened to and its heartbreaking when they have put together a nice place only to see it ruined and then find it difficult to evict the tenants. There has to be protection for all but not at the expense of the landlord.got

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 24, 2019 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      Good idea.

  7. Al
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Another problem with this policy is the apparent belief that all lets must be long-term, to people looking to settle permanently.

    The supply of short-term, particularly 3- to 6- month lets, or rolling contracts is extremely important to the freelance and consulting industries, or those in first jobs moving around the country to follow work before they settle down. If the restrictions on landlords reduce the supply of these, the cost of such work will soar due to increased travel and accomodation costs and the free movement of labour will be adversely affected.

  8. margaret
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    When both parties take out a contract the landlord and the tenant cannot just change their minds because either of them like or dislike a situation. The problem lies therein. If I had to rent and thank hard graft from the age of 14 yrs I haven’t, I would ensure that my contract was solid and if it said that I may be moved out after 6 months then I would accept that this was so. If there was a clause which said it was subject to review , I would accept that the outcome could go either way. If there was no definite time limit and an option to buy then I would accept that this is so.

  9. J Bush
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    After the war, when my Dad was demobbed and due to the inevitable housing shortage my parents basically squatted in a defunct army base. These were wooden huts, with what was effectively a wood burner in the centre of the hut they used for heating and cooking and they were lucky enough to get a hut with a tap outside. They separated the hut into rooms using blankets. My older siblings were born before they were allocated social housing. I was born in the first one. We grew up in social housing.

    Social housing allowed a element of security in that there was not the fear of being ‘turfed out’. That said, my maternal grandparents and maiden aunt, who stayed ‘at home’ to care for my Grandad lived in a privately rented house with no problem either, including the transfer of tenancy to said maiden aunt when Grandad died.

    The sale of social housing had its benefits too, but governments’ failure was not to replace any of these from the proceeds of the sales, for those who could not afford to buy.

    All of us children bought our own homes, though we all relied on renting when first leaving the parental home in our late teens/early 20’s.

    Fast forward 70 years and what a mess politicians have made of getting the basic requirement of a roof over your head.

    That said, I agree with the basic thrust of your article about improving the standard and security of home provision, but please don’t let the ‘socialists’ in your party dictate the criteria.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      Even up to the 1950s housing was very much a concern of the employer.
      Council housing very niftily shifted this burden onto the tax payer.
      And then council housing was asset stripped by Thatcher never to be reinstated properly.
      The burden was then pushed into the private sector and now that is being shafted by govt.
      And all the while mass immigration…secretly…silently.

    • Fred H
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Much of the present situation arose due to inability of successive governments to meet the target of housebuilding. Since the 1950s this failure meant high council house renting, and then right-to-buy came along. Theory was the income would enable modern new stock to be built, whilst allowing long-term existing renters to finally own the property. Sadly this all went wrong. The income was used for other purposes, council houses were not replaced, and the tenant requirement to buy eased to the point of widespread scandal. Especially in the cities tenants used their right, promptly sold in spite of the discount penalty, and a profitable business gained speed. With banks unable to reasonably loan their money, buy-to -let became the vehicle for investment. Too often this is merely a profit exercise not an intention to let property for the long-term.

    • rose
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      The mess the politicians have made arises from the fact they have brought about 12 million extra people into the country. This is why there is unprecedented pressure on all sorts of housing: council, rented, and bought. Until they stop distorting the market like this, we will be in continual danger of a communist government coming to power, and, in fear of that, of a so called conservative government behaving like a socialist one.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

        Far from improving things, May has taken ‘The Nasty Party’ and turned it into the ‘Most appallingly inept and duplicitous party!’

        I have never before seen a more useless parliament on these islands.

  10. Adam
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    If the UK had not become overcrowded, existing accommodation would be more freely available at better rates.

  11. Everhopeful
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    No mention is ever made about the rights and sensibilities of owner occupiers next to or near these buy to lets.
    Landlords have virtually no control over their tenants so there is little they can do about anti social behaviour.
    Basically they have to wait until the tenant rips the property apart and does a flit..leaving behind devastation and expense.
    Work to buy a home…whatever for?
    I wish I’d always rented then at least I could have moved!!

  12. rick hamilton
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Those who saved all their lives for retirement and then got no return from bank deposits (due to governments over borrowing and desperate to keep interest low) had little choice except risky stockmarkets or bricks and mortar for letting.

    The useless Tories treat their natural supporters as a cash cow with stamp duty and ever increasing regulation.The last straw is the HMO licence system for landlords which not only charges £850 here for a licence to do what we have done successfully for years, but also threatens ‘unlimited penalties’ for violations. As Mark Steyn has said, the UK is a country in which everything is criminalised except crime.

    A great money spinner and job creation scheme for parasitic bureaucracy. Well done May and Hammond, thousands more votes lost.

  13. Dominic
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    This isn’t about the rental property market. This is about politics, and as ever the clueless that currently run the party have no idea how to respond to the concocted and well constructed rise of Marxist fever

    Hitting the landlord is mere Marxist virtue signalling. It is an attempt to pander to an attitude that is being promoted by the left infected media and Labour that the landlord is an evil rentier and the tenant a poor, wretched victim of those nasty ‘capitalist pigs’

    It is another indication of the Tory leadership’s flirtation with the idiotic left. And of course there are more voters as tenants than there are voters as landlords

    We’ve been here before. It seems we learn nothing from history. It seems people continue in their fascination with collectivist tosh. Evidently, it’s being driven by Marxist Labour and their allies at C4, BBC, Labour’s client state and the idiots running our party feel the need to pander to it

    We have a Tory party that doesn’t understand how to hit back against the left and the rise of the Marxist creed amongst some young people.

    Marxism is an extremist ideology. It needs to be portrayed as such and not pander too.

    In Labour they have their aggressive leaders. We have erm, Gove. He’s terrifying he is, not. We need a leader that is defiant, aggressive and unwavering. An attack dog with a smile. And some who understands that the Marxism is a cancer and an extremist ideology

  14. Nicholas Murphy
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    There’s another group that barely gets any attention from politicians: those home-owners whose neighbourhoods are being degraded by the BTL business. I would like to see all rental properties being governed by a licensing regime, with adjacent homeowners being able to object to further licenses being issued where BTL coverage exceeds a threshold. My area is one of those being dragged down by BTL blight. Still, at least we have the occasional sight of the local police now – to deal with the street brawling.
    P.S. Could you please de-tune Captcha?

  15. acorn
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Among private renters and people with mortgages, a small majority (55% and 54%) voted to remain; those who owned their homes outright voted to leave by 55% to 45%. Around two thirds of council and housing association tenants voted to leave. ( Lord Ashcroft Polls)

  16. Lifelogic
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Why would a landlord seek to evict a tenant for no good reason? They can anyway only do so at the end of the contract that the tenant freely entered into (or if they fail to pay rents or defaulted seriously in some other way). Also it is an expensive and slow thing to do should they resist. In general landlords do no such thing, why would they?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      In a similar way why would employers reject good employees on the basis of gender or race you would just be damaging your business.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      The tenant after all is the customer for their product! Why would any business want to chase away customers without a good reason?

  17. Cis
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Ironic that this follows a piece which headlines falling property prices in London! The role of ‘buy-to-let’ landlords in bringing rentable property to the market is laudable in theory, but in practice their business model (based on cheaper mortgages, favourable tax arrangements, etc.) took entry level housing in otherwise affordable areas out of the reach of many ordinary buyers who just wanted their own roof over their own head. This had a knock-on effect on next-step housing too (fewer people around with capital from a first home to invest in one a little bigger). Maybe the price drop is a sign that the b-t-l reforms are having an effect and beginning to liberate the market.

  18. Alan Jutson
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Interesting and important topic today John.

    A privately rented home was the only home my Mother and Father ever lived in the whole of their married lives. (Controlled and Regulated tenancy)
    My Grandmother and Grandfather lived in Council rented accommodation for about 40 years until they passed away, having previously been privately renting until that house was eventually condemned.

    Since I married I have only ever lived in two properties, the first I purchased, the second I designed and built myself.
    Both of our Children also own their own properties.

    Thus I have seen and experienced all sides of the coin.

    Nothing is forever, no system is perfect, but the stability you get by knowing that you cannot simply be turfed out of your HOME at the whim of someone else, when you have treated the home well, is priceless.

    All of the above have problems, regulated and controlled tenancies mean landlords do not carry out improvements, unless that is reflected in rent increases.
    Short term rental contracts provide no real stability for either party.
    Proven Unfit Landlords should be prosecuted.
    Proven Unfit tenants should be able to be removed at short notice and low cost.
    Some sort of rent control I believe is desirable, although how best to set or implement that is questionable, you simply cannot leave everything to short term market forces.

    It is right that the Government should re-think the system, although Governments rarely have the right answer.

    The taxation system should reflect the importance of providing a sensible base for stable Private rentable properties, owners should not be regarded as cash cows, and tenants should not be regarded as disposable items.

    Knowing you have a stable location is so very important for future life planning for tenants.

    Knowing you can remove bad tenants quickly and cheaply is important for owners.

    I only own one house, and that is my HOME.

  19. Dominic Johnson
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    The best weapon a tenant has against a bad landlord is to move
    Vacancies kill landlords, I put up with a lot of **** because it’s easier and cheaper than a vacancy.

    The more you drive out that choice, the worse general conditions will get

    No landlord evicts without “good reason”, no one does anything without believing they have good reason.

  20. The Prangwizard
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    An attack on landlords. No reference to bad tenants, only a worry about avoiding damaging the market if the fake Tories get the balance wrong. Nicely distant from addressing the real problems on that side and legitimate rights of landlords.

    No reference to tenants not sticking to their part of the contract and their often disgusting and devious habits, the remedies already tortuous and costly.

    Political virtue signalling.

    I’m not a landlord, nor a tenant.

    I think I known which way this will go when it comes to a vote.

    Landlords should get out of the business now while they can.

  21. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    The starting point of any housing policy must be that a home is a dwelling not an investment.

    Buy to let, along with population increase has been a driving force in house price and rent increases as landlords are prepared to pay higher prices to gain an investment.

    However, what you have not mentioned in your piece Sir John and the other scourge of the housing market is housing benefit policy. Government has allowed the amount it is prepared to give away to claimants to drive the market. What it should have done is used this lever to cool the market.

    Why should a housing benefit claimant be able to raise the same level of rent as someone not claiming benefit? We are competing against people who are being subsidised with our own money.

  22. agricola
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Should be simple, you are overburdoned with lawyers, put them to productive work.

    There are only two sides to a contract, landlord and tennant. List expectations and responsibilities for both parties. Write these into a lawful contract. Create a department in local government to deal with disputes and give them enough financial power to bare down on either side that chooses to break the contract, and to inflict penalties on offenders. Hammer some order into the whole process and at the same time push up standards. Neither side has a right to anything if the flagrantly break the contract.
    When you have solved this simple challenge we will let you have a go at more complex problems.

    • R.T.G.
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

      @ agricola
      “List expectations and responsibilities for both parties. Write these into a lawful contract.”

      Government has produced quite a helpful leaflet, which must nowadays be given to a prospective tenant:
      https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent/how-to-rent-the-checklist-for-renting-in-england

      The AST agreement works quite well, and the means to convert to a periodic tenancy provides flexibility if both parties agree.

      Although often for 6 months, the initial or subsequent AST agreement can be negotiated for any term between 6 and 36 months. The initial 6 months gives both Landlord and Tenant a reasonable time for trust to develop – or not.

      The present provisions for both landlord and tenant, given both abide by specific contract and general law, appear sufficient.

      As others have said, no landlord in his right mind would ask a good tenant to leave unless he had very good reason. Likewise, the tenant with a good landlord.

      SJR, please don’t throw the landlord (or tenant) out with the bathwater by now letting your party interfere with contracts and relationships which are often more nuanced than media etc would have you believe. Agreed with agricola, bear down first on inadequate landlords and/or tenants, where the heavy problems really do exist.

      • R.T.G.
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

        “term between 6 and 36 months”
        should read “term between 6 (or less) and 36 months”

        • Stred
          Posted April 23, 2019 at 7:43 am | Permalink

          The problem is that many British tenants do not respect the clearly written agreement. In Germany and Denmark the tenants have to return the property in exactly the same condition and this is enforced. A German landlord renting a property in England told my agent that the difference between the behaviour of tenants in the UK and Germany is difficult to understand.

  23. Christine
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Everyone in my family has rented at some point during their lifetime. The reasons are varied. From short term lets between buying a new home to long term lets because of a desire for job mobility. It is wrong to think that all tenants want to buy, they don’t. Tenants may lose some security because a landlord can sell up but they have the added security that the Government will pay their rent if they get into financial difficulty. Home owners don’t have this safety net and will lose their home if they can’t pay the mortgage. It seems that the UK is alone in having this stigma attached to renting. Perhaps there needs to be some flexibility in the length in tenancy agreements. I’d be happy as a landlord to have a 10 year agreement as my properties are there to provide retirement income and I have no wish to sell in the short term.

  24. Steve
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    I wonder what the legal position would be if for example a Landlord was to expressly include a contractual matter whereby the Tennant must vacate the property at the end of the tenancy.

    Could law overrule a mutually agreed and signed contract between two parties ?

    I also wonder if some in Westminster have a vested interest, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. A lot of them must be renting London properties.

    Question not what they do, but why they do it.

  25. Kenneth
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Socialist policies such as micro-managing the rental sector always backfire and hurt those it is supposedly intended to help.

    I thinks the Socialist cabal in the Conservative Party have achieved yet another victory and this will be another nail in the coffin of the Party, the economy and, in this case, will hurt tenants who will be faced with less choice and more expense.

    The Conservatives need to rid themselves of Socialism and creeping neo-marxism and should start with dismissing Mrs May and Mr Hammond.

  26. Bob
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    If you had ever tried to evict a tenant for non payment of rent or any other breach of lease terms you would know that it’s not a trouble free process, and if all goes well you will be looking a 7 months before regaining control of the property, with no guarantee of repayment of overdue rent or dilapidation costs.

    The problem of unscrupulous landlords has been largely dealt with by various means including deposit protection and private rented property licensing with compulsory minimum standards but the govt have done nothing to protect decent landlords from unscrupulous tenants.

    The wet Tory govt are steering the country towards the slippery slope of controlled rents and sitting tenants which led to the contraction of the rental sector in the past before Mrs Thatcher dealt with the issue by means of Assured Shorthold Tenancies. If you dispense with AST’s you will be setting the rental market back to square one.

    The imbalance between supply and demand in the housing market is a problem created by government and will not be solved by constantly making life harder for landlords.

  27. William Long
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    As you ended by declaring that you had no interest, I had better open by declaring that we let two cottages on Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST). Both are now well beyond the initial six month term.
    The introduction of the AST scheme revolutionised the availability of rental property, and the Government should think very carefully indeed before doing anything to change it. The change was particularly noticeable in the countryside. My memory is of many cottages and houses in rural areas standing empty and deteriorating because it was not worth the while of their owners letting them when doing so meant that in effect they were probably saying goodbye to them. Clearly modern politicians are generally too young to have been aware of this and lack the imagination to realise it might happen. Most of them have never had the benefit of jobs in the real world which could have given them the necessary experience of how things work in a commercial environment.
    Quite often let cottages in the country are part of a farm and could be needed to house an employee if circumstances change so the letting is of a temporary nature from the start or an owner might have compelling reasons to sell, such as the need to finance inheritance tax. There is no reason that tenants should not be expected to be aware that an agreement cuts both ways; after all, they presumably go into any arrangement with their eyes open.
    We have been very lucky with our tenants over the years. We did though have one bad one who failed to pay the rent, damaged heating and cooking equipment and had dogs who fouled the place. Even in these circumstances it was necessary to go to Court before we could get him out and even then it was impossible to enforce the judgement we obtained for the cost of the damage.
    From my experience the tenant already has considerably more protection that the landlord and I find it quite extraordinary that a so called Conservative Goverment should be contemplating moving that balance still further against the landlord. Instead they sould be doing all they can to maximise the housing stock whether rented or owner occupied; both have a part to play.

  28. Dominic
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    What is required is a Tory leader that exposes Labour’s embrace of a form of politics that is extremist, dangerous, anti-democratic, destructive, immoral and cancerous to all forms of decent human behaviour

    That leader must also expose Labour’s embrace of direct intimidation of political opponents using inferences of violence against anyone who dares to challenge them. Rees-Mogg and Farage have already been the subject of such tactics

    Can I openly criticise Trump and May without feeling threatened? Yes

    Can I openly criticise Corbyn, McDonnell and McCluskey without feeling threatened? No

    Welcome to a world in which Marxist Labour is on the front foot while the Tory party refuses to expose the existential threat to all UK citizens

  29. Gareth Warren
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I have been a tenant with a good and bad landlord. The bad one never paid back the deposit because in those days he held it.
    The good stuck to the agreement and even posted back an item I left there by accident (was suffering from raised head pressure at the time). All I really ask from a landlord is that they at worst stick to the contract. Problems always will happen, some people will not be able to pay rent for example.
    Here thebig government solution is to offload the costs onto the landlord, unfortunately while problems do happen the tenants here should have saved up an emergency fund. It is heresy to speak of saving in the age of pay-day loans, perhaps government can do something to encourage it?
    But I hope here we see government not take the side of the feckless and irresponsible when things go wrong, something the media seem to encourage.

  30. bigneil
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Off topic.

    Reading on the BBC news that Sudan’s ousted leader’s home has found to contain about £100m in cash – -is there where our Foreign Aid ends up ? – because it certainly doesn’t seem to end up anywhere else.

    • Fred H
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      I think it has been suspected / known for years and years that Foreign Aid finds its way into the coffers of all sorts of undesirable people, not benefitting the needy that our Government was aiming for.

  31. Jim
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    The trouble with all laws that govern the nature of legal relationships between humans is that they have to cover the entire span of human nature, and inevitably if you word the law to help one side from being exploited by a bad natured counterpart, you then open up the reverse to occur with no recourse. Thus if you legislate to protect tenants from bad landlords (who undoubtedly exist) you then open up good landlords to be exploited by bad tenants (who also undoubtedly exist).

    The trouble with the current proposals are simple – they make perfect sense if every tenant is reasonable and acting in good faith. If they are not then a law that only allows eviction for non payment of rent is open to massive gaming of the system – you pay no rent for as long as you can, then when threatened with eviction tell the court a sob story and offer to pay in instalments, which they will probably accept, courts always being a soft touch for a sob story, make a few payments, then stop paying again, rinse and repeat. Each time forcing the landlord to expend money on legal proceedings, lose out on rent, and be unable to get his property back for very likely years.

    The irony is that such laws would probably result in more ‘bad landlord’ behaviour (forced eviction, threatening behaviour etc) precisely because the law abiding landlord no longer has a legal way of getting his property back from a non law abiding tenant. So guess what, more landlords will become non-law abiding themselves! And also that far more discrimination will take place, because who you let you property to will become a very critical issue, and landlords will want to be sure they don’t get bad tenants. So sweeping generalisations will be made about potential tenants in order to weed out the bad ones.

    Politicians seem incapable of understanding that laws have second order effects (and more beyond that). Just because you pass a law saying X must not happen does not mean everyone will abide by it, and there will also be changes in behaviours which create other problems. Especially if the ability of the authorities to enforce said laws is patchy at best. We see it with all the waste disposal laws – it may be illegal to dump waste in laybys, it doesn’t stop people doing it to avoid the waste disposal taxes though.

  32. Fred H
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Sir John, apologies for going off topic. A subject for another post from yourself?

    Just who elects candidates from proposed local party association? How does a candidate, new or old get proposed at local level?
    Once chosen and passed upwards for approval how does the selection get endorsed?

    One assumes the Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ), formerly known as Conservative Central Office (CCO) is the headquarters of the British Conservative Party, housing its central staff and committee members, including campaign coordinators and managers. What group, committee etc gets to vote (?) on candidates? Are they on public record, are you at liberty to name them?

    Given the way current Cons MPs have been behaving, surely the electorate should be informed as to who will be choosing to fight in an upcoming GE. After all, many might hope that will come to pass sooner rather than later?

    Reply A potential candidate has to get on top the approved list, run by CCHQ. Local Associations can usually chose who they like from the list, or in some cases can chose a well known local figure who is not yet on the list.

    • Fred H
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      So CCHQ start the ball rolling with their list of recommended candidates? Who picks that? Presumably potentials make it known they would wish to contest a constituency in the first instance? How many might a list contain eg. 2 to 10? then Local Assocs assess the candidates in some way (interviews?) and may wish to add a respectable local person. Who in the Local Assoc gets to discuss, then vote on the list? All members or just a select few? Thank you for giving a more factual insight than my guesses.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply: Thereby hangs a tale! I am pretty much in the Mark Francois camp, but this Tory party as presently constructed wouldn’t want (to paraphrase that nice Mister Major) any more of the bastards!

      I hadn’t got a hope of ever being selected by CCHQ, but I can tell them what they would have got if they had – someone who is absolutely for Britain and its people, and of unshakable resolve in fighting crime, injustice, vested interests, and the underhanded supporters of the European Union. Not for me the taking of 30 pieces of silver under any conditions whatsoever!

      Their loss, but it does perhaps show the Tories only really want in the main pliant subservient social climbers, not free-thinkers and doers.

      The party is barely recognisable as the one I wanted to stand for a generation ago.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 23, 2019 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        Tad. well said.

  33. Paul H
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    It is very odd that the government is rushing to introduce a retrospective right for either party to terminate the marriage contract unilaterally and easily, when most people had understood the permanence of marriage to be – overall – a benefit to society. Yet it is intending to stop individuals entering a purely commercial arrangement on a mutually acceptable short-term basis. It seems to have things completely the wrong way around!

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      What’s *conservative* about this government ?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

        Nothing at all. May’s government is a tax to death, piss down the drain, red tape spewing, anti-democratic, Brexit ratting, SJW, identity politics pushing, socialist government. They are liars and blatant frauds too, totally beneath contempt. Traitors to their very core.

  34. Ian Pennell
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Dear Sir John Redwood,

    A very good article. There are already plenty of checks and balances in place to stop landlords throwing tenants out on to the streets and, if the truth be known, it is already difficult and expensive to get rid of bad tenants and then landlords are faced with extensive repair bills.

    A Conservative Government should be addressing some of the underlying reasons why rents are too high. Removing some of the restrictions on “Buy to Let” would be a start as would reductions in business rates and Income Tax. There should also be some sort of Compensation Fund for property (and other business) owners who suffer damage to their businesses as there are gaps in what the Insurance Industry will cover.

    However, a fundamental reason for high rents is high demand. Many people cannot afford to buy and own a home of their own which is why a massive house- building initiative would pay dividends. Landlords could be given financial incentives to sell their properties directly to their tenants who could (with a government loan if the banks are unwilling) buy their home. Granted that all this would cost money, but with the budget deficit virtually eliminated, an extra £30 billion of borrowing each year to fund all this- thus boosting the struggling economy ought to be given serious consideration. One could borrow from the Bank of England, thus eliminating any threat of rising spreads and possible gilts strikes.

    Ian Pennell

    • Geoffrey Berg
      Posted April 23, 2019 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      As both a commercial and a residential landlord (and just about every commercial landlord, including myself, thinks despite current problems with commercial that residential property is a nightmare in comparison with commercial and the government is making a bad situation far worse), I do think owner-occupation is the best tenure and should be encouraged but I can no longer sell to even my commercial tenants (which I used to do occasionally) because of Capital Gains Tax. It would be a sensible and helpful measure if sales of property to a sitting tenant (whether commercial or residential) were exempted from Capital Gains Tax.

  35. forthurst
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    “More emphasis has been placed on institutional and company landlords, who will in turn be concerned if contracts are too restricted.”

    A large block of flats for rent has been built near me by an institutional landlord; why would they be concerned about the length of a tenancy? They want to keep the block full of tenants at all times, surely. It is those who acquire an additional property and then can’t make up their minds whether they want to rent or to sell and are constantly trying to repossess, then change their minds who will hopefully be deterred by better security for tenants. The removal of more landlords from the rental market would be a public good because the majority are not fit to have responsibility for other people’s lives.

  36. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    “…the government also needs to take into account how landlords are likely to respond…”
    Please insert “too many” before the word “landlords”

    For example: In the late 1970s Labour enacted rent increase limitations.
    Too many landlords found the only way they could increase a rent on a bedsit or flat was to encourage by foul means and fair the tenant to leave. This allowed them to place a higher rent on any new tenant.
    I lost my home, and money, and I had friends who lost their homes by foul means used by landlords. I read at the time that maybe thousands lost their homes in this fashion.It was quite impossible to calculate. Guessing, it could have been tens of thousands.

    The starting point for government should be that landlords are not nice in all respects. We know many are nice.There are many nice cars but they sometimes have breakdowns.

    • CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      On balance, there are bad tenants and it is expensive, time-consuming and difficult for a landlord to evict even now. A landlord told me who was left with an empty flat ( who owed my own company money in a different regard),and trying to find the whereabouts of a tenant owing him money. He was telling the truth. A tenant I visited under the same landlord had reported for a full year a continual buzzing sound, I heard it, from some electrical device.It was not rectified.
      There be dragons in letting property, on both sides.

  37. Posted April 22, 2019 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    It is staggering,
    It matters not what the subject, this bunch , I doubtless mean this Tory Party.

    Can not help themselves, they are clueless, perhaps it is only the clueless that ever come up with ever more Left Wing , Lib Daft pathetic ideas.

    Anyone off the street would have more life experience and a lot more between there ears.
    Non of the above is in anyway accusing our Buckets of Common sence Host , sadly for all of us he is one of very very few.

    Most of the rest of them, will be only too pleased to loose the Tory party to oblivion, just as long as we get to stay forever in the EU.

    These are the majority, and add to them the mad bunch who have gone alone , can they just not see what a damned shower they are, little more than drunk on Limelight

    While the party pulls its self apart.

    The New Tory party is now The Brexit Party, God bless Farage.

    Untill there is anything better, and I can not imagine anything better.

    I have no sentiment what so ever for the Tory party, they have brought it on them selves, there behaviour over decades has been ever The Establishment.

    There is no way they will learn there lesson, even now coming up with how can we stop Brexit
    They simply learn nothing, it is all about Them.

    Well I am interested only in Democricy, I only see that in Farage, no other bunch comes close.
    The clue is in the name. The Brexit Party

    I hope that this Government and there chums in Labour, and that other ghastly bunch, yes
    The Lib Dims are not seen for thirty years, why should they ever come back, non of them are anything that could be called Democratic.
    As long as the population is demacraticly run , that means sticking to The Manifesto, that is all that is required.
    Oh and a Common Sence Tenant in number eleven?

  38. Mark
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Councils and Housing Associations are also landlords. If we had a truly fungible rental market, tenants would be free to rent any property from any landlord provided they could afford the rent (as supported by housing benefit in some cases). There would be no real distinction in the terms of rental contracts: only competition between different types of provider, location and property quality and environment. Landlords who are in the business of renting out property should not need to use most of the myriad Section 21 reasons to evict a tenant – many of which are designed for those who are leaving that business – e.g. because they are returning home after a posting abroad, or need to sell up to fund some other major expenditure. There are some tenants for whom the exposure to such risks are acceptable, but it should not be a general condition.

    We have clearly moved away from the optimal ratio between rented and owned accommodation, so there is a need to find ways to restore higher levels of owner occupation, which will mean a transfer of rented housing into private ownership: it is impractical to do this through increases in the housing stock, which have in any case mainly been for the benefit of the rental sectors. That can only sensibly occur at lower real house prices, when the ability to afford a home, a family and a pension becomes more widespread, as discussed yesterday.

    Meantime, the persecution of landlords through taxation of mortgage interest does tenants no favours: the tax must be paid from the rent, which must therefore increase, or property maintenance must suffer if the landlord is not to make a current loss. It should be abandoned. I note that Dominic Raab has taken up with a suggestion I have been making for many years that landlords should not be charged CGT when they sell to owner occupiers. That would allow them to sell at a lower price without suffering the loss of investment capital that crystallising CGT entails, and would therefore help the return of housing to owner occupiers without disadvantaging landlords.

  39. John Gross
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I am old enough to remember the Rachman scandal. https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/vmpeople/infamous/peterrachman.asp

    It was called (from memory) the “Unacceptable face of Capitalism” but the root cause was rent control of sitting tenants in properties that were becoming increasingly valuable.

  40. anon
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    1) Address the problem of how landlords manage out problem tenants.

    2) Landlords with multiple properties must extend indefinitely leases subject to conditions, like paying the rents which should be fixed increasing with cpi only.

    3) Those on housing benefit should be helped away from expensive areas. A build to reduce housing benefit policy using non-profits and or pension funds.

    4) Accidental landlords those with say 2 properties including the one they live in should retain the right to access the property. If they are effectively renting till a sale can be arranged or other life event intervenes.

    5) The state should take a more direct role in providing rentals to those who are being asked to leave, some may be problem tenants.

    Ensure immigration is controlled so generally ,only self financing immigration is allowed.

    This would tend to reduce the pressure on market rents & allow self supporting individuals to save a deposit, without having to support others via subsidy compete for same housing in the same area.

    Finally abolish leasehold. It is feudal relic and self serving there is no excuse.
    Strange the EU have not abolished it!

  41. mancunius
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    This smacks of the typical government ‘let’s buy more votes for God’s sake’ attitude to legislation. (And the question may be reasonably asked whether MPs, who own one and possibly more homes at our expense, may be considered thoughtful judges of the rental sector.)

    The current default notice period of two months for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy actually works quite well: the main problem is where lettings agents conceal the amateur status of many ‘landlords’ – who are often leaseholders temporarily renting out their home while they perch short-term elsewhere. These people are not genuinely engaged in a business, and have no working capital: they try to pass on short-term added costs (e.g. higher mortgage repayments, or service charge supplements for building works) to the tenants in the form of rent increases. They give real landlords a bad name.
    However, more anti-landlord legislation will probably encourage all landlords, including serious and law-abiding professionals, to issue Section 21 notices while they still can, in order to refurbish the property and raise the rent for new tenants.

    • mancunius
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      PS – for the sake of clarity: ‘This’ at the beginning of my comment means, ‘the proposed new legislation to impede landlords from giving tenants notice’.

  42. Hugh Rose
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Your notes (like most other commentaries but not as severely) concentrate on the rights of the tenant to the detriment of those of the landlord. I can assure you no landlord of leased property never willingly lost a good tenant! It should be remembered that many are reluctantly letting their own home for a period and expect it to be treated with respect. Unfortunately many tenants make no effort to look after the rented property and so a culture of “give them the minimum because they will trash it anyway” pervades.

    Where disputes arise it is essential that a fair method of adjudication is available because the fault is by no means always on the side of the “rapacious” landlord – the problem is that the tenants who do the worst damage have the least means to make amends.

  43. Steve P
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    We sold a buy-to-let in Wokingham as the cost of maintenance penalized the Landlord. As an example a tenant left the iron switched on and burnt a hole in the carpet. Under existing legislation the tenant pays for 1 square foot damaged area – I had to pay for the other 400 square feet. That’s just one small example of many.

    I’m currently near Toronto where they have implemented rent controls. Rent cap is set resulting in a reduction of thousands of properties and increase in evictions as the only way to avoid the rent cap is re-market and get new tenants. Properties with long term tenants quickly get behind market value with a rent cap. We rented at $2300 per month as that was the market value, the neighbour with same house is stuck on $1900 with long term tenants and is looking for a way to evict.

  44. Stred
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    As a BTL owner with 4 properties over 28 years, I have never evicted a tenant. Many have left before their tendency agreement ended. The majority of British tenants failed to abide by the whole agreement. After delays and non payment of rent I avoided any more tenants relying on housing benefit. Some tenants damaged the properties by alterations and making hiding drugs. Kitchens and bathrooms had to be rebuilt four times. Few knew how to avoid condensation by ventilation and not drying clothes inside. If the government makes it difficult or impossible to evict tenants I will have to sell them. It is already difficult and costly to obtain rapid possession of property from tenants who know how to spin out the procedure while not paying rent. I know of six other friends who have in vested in BTL for a pension and their experience is similar.

  45. sm
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    But do you remember that what the then PM, Heath, meant to say was ‘an unacceptable FACET of capitalism’?

  46. The Prangwizard
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Sir John says tenants just want a place to live. Why do they then so often neglect and trash the properties they rent and live in? They think the landlord is rich and can afford to pay for their negligence and abuse and there is almost no adequate remedy. A popular phrase these days – no justice.

    This attitude is encouraged by their not having a stake in the property. If people want to rent long term therefore, because they can’t get a mortgage or don’t want to buy consider longer tenancies at lower rents where the tenant fits their own kitchen for example, with rights of assignment, nearer the commercial approach.

    Attacking landlords by first naming them guilty and by removing section 21 rights is going to be a disaster for them and the market but it will be spun as a political success as it is ideologically driven.

  47. Chris S
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    My wife and I have been Buy To Let investors for more than 20 years.

    Gordon Brown started the attack on us by removing taper relief, thus encouraging short term investors at the expense of those like us who invested for the long term ( ie retirement ).

    However, far more damage has been done by the Cameron and May Governments as follows :

    Increased rates of CGT despite the loss of taper relief ( Osbourne ).

    Removal of six month’s Council Tax relief for vacant properties ( Pickles ) In a bad year this is costing us more than £2,000. We don’t even get the single person’s discount !

    Removal of mortgage interest tax relief ( Osbourne & Hammond ) This is very expensive for anyone with a BTL Mortgage. It is the only business financing that does not attract tax relief

    Extra 3% stamp duty ( Hammond ).

    Banning letting agents charging fees to prospective tenants. We now have to pay them all !

    Cancellation of Landlord’s rights on fixed term contracts ( Brokenshire who, for this travesty should be renamed James Brokensure ).

    I can hardly call these “Conservative” Governments after they have so comprehensively screwed those that plan for retirement by investing in property. After all, most of us only switched to Property because of low interest rates and Gordon Brown’s devastating attacks on our pension schemes.

    This latest attack by “Brokensure” is one of the worst thought out measures yet.

    We have had occasions where we have had numerous complaints about a bad tenant from adjacent good, long-term tenants of ours. In the first instance we issued warnings then the Council would do nothing when these good tenants raised complaints about noise and antisocial behaviour. Understandably, the exasperated good tenants then said they would look to leave. We therefore had no option other than to give the requisite notice period, refurbish the flat and find a better tenant. It was expensive for us, but the alternative would be to lose two good tenants and the problems would have continued.

    I very much doubt whether Brokensure’s new measure would allow us to remove the tenant in this case. There are many other instances I could think of where this proposal would work against good landlords.

    The ideal tenants are ones who are cooperastive, pay their rent on time, make no trouble and keep the place clean and tidy. No good landlord wants to evict tenants without a very good reason because successive Conservative Governments have made void periods so very expensive.

    By all means increase the notice period to, say, three months, maybe even six months after three years, but to remove the right for a Landlord to give notice when a legal contract is already in place is no form of natural justice.

    I despair at many of the actions of recent so-called Conservative Governments.

  48. BillMayes
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, you are far too logical and too sensible to become a 21 st Century Conservative Cabinet Minister. Will you change Party or become an Independent? Or, sadly, have you no ambitions beyond MP status?

  49. Mr Thomas B Hall
    Posted April 23, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Sir John, I am a firm supporter of yours, but on this topic I believe you are mistaken.

    If I may quote: “the best way for tenants to get good deals and have choices is to encourage a larger and healthier private rented market”. I disagree.

    We will both agree that there is a portion of society that would prefer to rent than buy. We should have a market that caters to this demand. However, the majority of renters today would prefer to own, and private landlords on the whole are simply inserting themselves between people and their need to live somewhere that works for their lives.

    Although it is less commonly cited in favour of the corresponding rise in owner occupiers, one of the great achievements of the 20th Century was reducing the size of the private rented sector from over 90% of households to less than 10%. As this progress has been reversed in the last 30 years, so too has the appeal of the Conservative party.

    I’m pleased to hear you are not a landlord. However, party donors are almost invariably tied up to property and beneficiaries of high property prices, and the party has many many landlords as MPs and members. The rise of the private rented sector has destroyed the credibility of the Conservatives to call themselves the party of aspiration.

    Policies that discourage landlording as an activity will not cause the properties themselves to disappear. They will simply be bought by those who wish to live in the property themselves. We achieved better house building numbers when the size of the PRS was much smaller.

    The continued high house prices and poor housing security for the young have led to a breakdown in society. People cannot afford to start their own families until much later, children cannot afford to live near elderly parents, transport infrastructure is overloaded because people cannot afford to live near their places of work of children’s schools.

    Keep up the good fight on Brexit, and I hope you may reconsider your views on the merits of landlording as an economic activity.

    Reply I have always argued for policies that promote more home ownership and have set out why it is best for most people

  50. CvM
    Posted April 23, 2019 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I am both a tenant (in Germany) and landlord (in UK) – a situation arising from being asked to move abroad for the company I work for. Here in Germany the protections for tenants are far higher, but also for landlords if the property is damaged.

    For me a fair system is:
    * if an agreement is freely entered for a set time then it must be honoured by both sides
    * landlord must maintain the property properly
    * tenant must equally respect the property and forfeit deposit as a minimum if not

    * if no fixed time on the contract then a minimum of 2 months notice, if not 3, seems reasonable to ask the tenant to leave with the good reason the landlord needs the property back
    * there must be a quick way to evict a tenant if they are either abusing the terms of their contract in relation to damage to the property or (and far harder to define / police) they are anti-social behaviour upsetting the neighbours

    An Air BnB system where landlords and tenants can rate each other could be an interesting idea

  51. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 23, 2019 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    If tenants want maintenance to be carried out on a property they live in, they are entitled to that. However, if that maintenance also adds value to the rental property, then the landlord is entitled to seek increased rent at the end of contracted period.

  52. Arnie from Newington
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    I am a landlord and work in a letting agent in Scotland. Scotland is often praised for all the legislation brought in usually as a result of the policy team at Shelter. What they do not tell you is rents have gone through the roof.

    At the same time that the small landlord is being attacked the build to rent sector is being welcomed with open arms. Personally I can’t think of anything worse than having to live in one of these properties.

    The PRS has traditionally provided accommodation to transient tenants e.g. students, workers and overseas. The long term rental were catered for by the social sector and once people wanted to put down roots they would buy. Now we have social tenants in the private sector and in my opinion this doesn’t work.

    Pension schemes want to build high rises in the middle of nowhere and rent them to generation rent at market rents. These will be the slums of the future and the tenants will experience usary.

    My friend rents from a friend who doesn’t follow any of the legislation, let’s them decorate and doesn’t put the rent up. When he tells other renters they think that arrangement is brilliant and wish they had that. Unfortunately nobody asks tenants what they want and instead they rely on Shelter who are more interested in fighting a class war and tenants are getting caught in the crossfire.

    Where I do agree with the left is we should start building social housing as that would reduce the benefit bill. I suspect that the Tories fear this on ideological grounds as more tenants might vote Labour indeed I do wonder if buy to let was Labours attempt to reduce Tory voting home owners and create labour voting tenants.

    If this is true then it’s no wonder we have a housing crisis.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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