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By Graham Norwood

Editor, EAT, LAT & LLT

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Landlords - shout louder about the good you’re doing!

We all know what the problem is, but what’s the solution?

The problem is that landlords, thinking they offer a valuable service to tenants, have become unfairly identified with all that’s wrong with capitalism today. They are portrayed as money-grabbing, uncaring, poorly regulated and after a quick buck whatever the cost in human terms.

A generation after that Thatcher Conservative government encouraged ordinary people to invest savings in one or two buy to lets as a future pension, so those same individuals are now portrayed by the Johnson Conservative government as evil.

So what’s gone wrong?

I asked the man who more than anyone fights for the private rental sector landlord today - Paul Shamplina, well known for almost three decades of working with landlords and since 1999 associated with his eviction and repossession operation, Landlord Action.

More recently he’s reached a wider audience with Channel 5’s Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords, while within the industry his involvement with the Hamilton Fraser company ensures he is closely linked with the Property Redress Scheme and MyDeposits, as well as a string of appearances and contributions at landlord events and education platforms.

What’s his take on why landlords are the whipping boys of the housing shortage?

“For a start they’ve got a bad and out of date name - ‘land’ suggesting they own the land, and ‘lord’ meaning they’re ruling over the tenants. That’s an outdated concept but leads to same false perceptions amongst people” he says.

But there’s a more fundamental problem, suspects Shamplina, and some of it might be down to landlords themselves needing to go further in explaining how valuable they are these days.

“There’s a much higher expectation from tenants than ever before. They ask questions about their landlords - are they licensed? do they live locally? are their properties in the best condition? Therefore landlords have to sell themselves more” he insists.

“There’s no point landlords moaning and bitching. They’ve got to take action. I tell them to get their properties fully-managed. It’s sometimes just an extra few pounds a week adding up to a few per cent per year - some don’t want to pay it, but doing so improves life for landlords and probably tenants” Shamplina believes.

The reason why it’s important to get properties fully managed by professionals? That’s easy to explain, he claims.

“Landlords can’t keep up with the regulation and legislation changes. Many of them have just one or two buy to lets and critically they’ve got full-time jobs as well so they end up being tempted to cut corners.”

Just as important as the practical side of property management, there’s the psychological factor - landlords should be more proud of what they do.

“Good landlord stories don’t sell papers or TV programmes but there are plenty of fantastic things done by landlords - providing places to live, for a start. They should shout about them. I’ve got some people telling me they’re ashamed to admit they’re landlords - but what’s there to be ashamed about?”

I can only agree with Shamplina - I’m a landlord myself, of two small buy to lets near where I live but fully-managed by a local lettings agent.

The newly-merged National Residential Landlords Association has already succeeded in beginning to turn the tide: there’s been far more positive press about landlords’ plights in the lead up to the ending of the eviction ban, and it’s in the whole property industry’s interests that this positivity continues as much as possible during the Coronavirus crisis.

The private rental sector is now vast, as we know. The latest available figures show some 4.6m households rented their home from a private landlord in 2018/19, representing 19 per cent of all households in England - double that proportion within London.

In 2018, I wrote in Letting Agent Today that over 80 separate pieces of legislation had been applied to the private rental sector since 1990; it’s fair to say that after two busy years for regulation applying to landlords, that total must now be nearing 100.

I’ve just taken over as editor of Landlord Today as well as Estate Agent Today and LAT so expect a lot more pro-landlord stories soon as we work to restore the pride and prestige of people providing that most valuable of all resources, a home for people to live in.

*Editor of Estate Agent Today, Letting Agent Today and now Landlord Today, Graham can be found tweeting about all things property at @PropertyJourn

  • The Secret Landlord

    Maybe it's just me, but I don't feel comfortable shouting about how great I am. I'm not a bad person just because I'm a landlord and that irks me the most about the current climate.

  • Paul Barrett

    I consider that LL who have a good offer have every right to be proud of that offer.

    They work hard to ensure that tenants have a good offer but tenants must expect to pay market prices for such offers.

    Envy is the main reason people hate PRIVATE HOUSING PROVIDERS (LL).

    I challenge any private LL to wear a T shirt down their local High St on a Saturday afternoon with the T shirt displaying the phrase

    'I am a private LL and proud of it'

    I would never do that as I know the abuse I would receive.

    PHP are faced with a conundrum.
    Their services are desperately needed but at the same time are resented for providing those services.

    A no-win situation I think!!

    All LL can do is provide a good offer accepting that they will be hated for doing so.

    Ain't life strange!!

    I accept that there are bad LL which is why I consider that ALL existing licensing schemes should be abolished to be replaced a National LL Licensing scheme.
    This to charge no more than £100 per property every 5 years.


    So NO letting without a property licence no and associated LL licence number.

    Will NEVER happen of course because there are MILLIONS of fraudulent tenancies out there.
    Licencing would simply cause millions of homeless.
    Can't see Govt ever wanting a robust licencing scheme.

    Far better to have Councils charge ridiculous licencing fees to force even more LL out of business which is ultimately what Govt is attempting to achieve.

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    • J S
    • 09 October 2020 18:00 PM

    The UK has a fundamental housing supply and demand problem. Landlords are a contributory factor and a direct beneficiary of this.

    House prices are inflated and continue to outstrip wage inflation and rents are also expensive relative to wages.

    A sizeable portion of renters would have been able to buy were they of a past generation, however now find themselves priced out of the market and paying monthly rent, typically in excess of the equivalent monthly mortgage repayment.

    The government continues to introduce policies designed to prop up prices, further exacerbating the issue.

    If there were less landlords demand would fall as would prices enabling an increase in owner occupiers.

    It is understandable that landlords see property as a good investment, particularly as the government is intent on propping up house prices. It is cognitive dissonance however to pretend this choice does not negatively impact the younger generations.

    It is therefore unavoidable that a significant proportion of the UK population will have a negative opinion of landlords.

    Matthew Payne

    The government doesn't support house price inflation or design policy around propping it up. House market activity is what they crave. Tax receipts in large, complex supply chains. Unfortunately their desire for activity is so desperate sometimes, as with this ridiculously short SDLT window, that house price inflation is a by product they actually don't want but suffer like most buyers. A target of 300,000 new homes a year is indicator enough that house price deflation is their actual aim to make purchases more accessible to more people - over supply reduces prices - we don't have an extra net 300k of people a year who are able or want to buy a property, even if there is a bit of catch up to be made. Net result of lower prices = more confidence, more activity, more employment, more tax, less pressure and dependence on social housing and councils.

     
    Paul Barrett

    You couldn't be more wrong with everything you have stated.

    LL have never caused anyone to not be able to buy.
    It is tenant demand that has driven LL to invest in that market.

    Had there not been MASS UNCONTROLLED IMMIGRATION and also illegal immigration then demand would have been substantially reduced.

    It has been UNCONTROLLED borders that has led to unmet demand.

    No surprise therefore that rents have increased and prices increased.
    Stop immigration and remice the 10 milkion EU nationals along with the 2 million illegal immigrants and suddenly lits of property availability.

    It was dopey Bliar that opened the borders to the A8 accession countries to rub the rights noses into diversity.

    That went well.
    Resulted in Brexit and a housing crisis in high demand areas..
    There will ve no way that housing supply will EVER meet demand until the borders are closed to legal and illegal immigrants..

    Idiots like you trot out the usual anti-LL invective accusing LL of all manner of things.

    LL are NOT responsible for the woes of the property market.

     
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    • J S
    • 09 October 2020 22:57 PM

    Paul, I don't disagree that immigration is also a factor.

    My comment however was focused on the negative opinion of landlords and the reasons for this.

    It is undeniable that the more investors in the market purchasing multiple properties, the more demand and the more prices are bid up. This ultimately prices some people, mainly younger FTBs out of the market.

    Matthew, I agree this policy of house building is encouraging but it is yet to be realised.

    On the other hand help to buy, cheap borrowing, SDLT holiday and the newly announced 5% deposit guaranteed mortgage loans have and will inflate prices. Not to mention the lack of land taxes which might incetivise housebuilders to use land they are sitting on.

     
  • Paul Barrett

    No you are wrong again
    LL do not bid up property prices.

    Rarely do LL pay full retail price.

    It has been the inability of prospective buyers to bother saving up for a deposit that prevents most from buying.

    I don't know how long you have been an EA but I can assure you LL don't bid up property prices.

    Indeed without LL the stock of all property available would be far less than is the case.
    To make property affordable Govt needs to provide the deposit.

    Most tenants can afford a mortgage but unsurprisingly lenders aren't prepared to offer 100% mortgages.

    Even as a LL I would much prefer a considerably reduced PRS.

    Homeownership is the Gold Standard of tenure as far as I am concerned.

    If it means the taxpayer has to subsidies the feckless with a deposit then fair enough.
    A charge for the deposit will be placed on the property for the deposit amount by Govt.

    If Govt facilitated deposits it would easily generate a positive return in taxes as property purchasing generates enormous amounts of positive e economic activity.


    Personally I wouldn't begrudge the feckless being assisted with deposits.
    Though of course it would mean the taxpayer would be heavily invested in the property market.

    That is not something I particularly object to.

    I would much prefer a smaller PRS and a far larger home owning sector

    But LL do NOT prevent anyone from buying.

    There are plenty of properties for sale. They certainly aren't being snapped by FTB.

    LL save up 25% deposits and are subject to onerous PRA regulations.

    If MMR was suspended then that would make things easier so FTB could have IO mortgages.

    This would then give FTB a competitive advantage over LL.

    As a LL I wouldn't object to FTB being given an advantage over LL

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