With each passing day, there seems to be more and more vitriol being directed at landlords, with the finger of blame over impending evictions (and the predicted rise in their number) pointed firmly at…you guessed it…landlords.
It’s as if they are to blame for the coronavirus pandemic, and the impact it has had upon households across the country.
As if they are responsible for the financial difficulties faced by their tenants, some of whom were in difficulties, arrears and dire straits, long before coronavirus had even reached these shores.
The latest person to jump on this bandwagon of ‘landlord bashing’ is Labour’s former Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell.
McDonnell has waded into the argument by saying that the evictions ban should be extended for a further 12 months.
OK then, let’s hear his argument first, in the interests of fairness…
“Housing should be a right for all, not an investment opportunity for a few...” McDonnell has stated, in a clear attack on the many hundreds of thousands of landlords who provide affordable and safe accommodation for so many people, in so many different settings and communities.
To say that his comment is insulting, is a huge understatement.
Yes, letting property is an investment for many, but why shouldn’t it be?
Hard working people who want to make the most of their hard earned money, may decide to buy one or two houses to let, maybe for a pension pot, maybe to reduce the number of hours they need to work, that’s up to them.
The motivations of landlords differ from one to the other, of course they do, but the idea that taking money from tenants is the sole driving force of every single landlord is ridiculous, plainly.
Some let properties as a career choice...
Some let properties to supplement their main income...
Some let properties as a hobby...
Some let properties to pay their mortgage...
Some even let properties by accident!
Whatever the reason, there are so many hoops to hump through when renting out a property, that it just isn’t true to say that becoming a landlord is a ‘get rich quick’ scheme, where the landlord looks to exploit the tenant as much as they can.
The hoops and legislation are hugely important, because they ensure standards and fairness.
Many landlords actually contribute to these conversations, and are huge advocates for affordable and safe accommodation, which is why McDonnell’s claims that a 12 month extension would help tackle the UK’s housing crisis is just plain wrong.
Having had to take the last 6 months of no rent on the chin, many landlords will be put off from the responsibility forever.
Many will sell through choice. Many will sell through necessity.
Where will the affordable, regulated and safe housing be then?
This kind of housing is already going to be harder to come by for many renters, but McDonnell’s suggestions would make it damn near impossible.
We’ve listened to his point, we’ve tried to understand...
...but the truth is, landlords have listened and shown just about as much understanding as any group of people, throughout this whole horrible crisis.
It’s time that people like Mr McDonnell started to listen and show some understanding towards landlords.
Otherwise, the housing crisis that he claims landlords are partly responsible for, is likely to get a whole lot worse before it gets any better.