RLA vs Shelter

The Residential Landlords Association has attacked Shelter today for what is regarded amongst Landlords as a scaremongering campaign. Shelter’s “Growing Up Renting” campaign argues that families with children are bearing the brunt of insecure tenancies, high rents, and constant moves that it asserts are standard in today’s market.

In dismissing this allegation, the RLA says that the reality is that nearly all tenancies are ended by tenants. Just 9% are ended by landlords, usually as a result of tenant rent arrears or anti-social behaviour. It demonstrates that contrary to popular myth, most landlords would prefer to keep tenants rather than being left with an empty property.

In our opinion the RLA is spot on. As a landlord, given the costs of voids and re-letting, you do what you can to keep any half decent tenant. Shelter’s campaign is utterly bewildering and were it to be successful completely self-defeating as it would reduce the number of landlords and rental properties in the market. Whilst (despite their anti- landlord stance) we support some of Shelter’s aims, one sometimes wonders if these people actually live on the same planet.

On rent levels, figures in the English Housing Survey for 2011-12 show that over the 3 years between 2008/2009 and 2011/12, average rents in the private rental sector increased by an average of just 2.4% per year, less than half the rate of 5.6% in the social sector over the same period. The charity’s “Growing Up Renting” campaign argues that families with children are bearing the brunt of insecure tenancies, high rents, and constant moves that it asserts are standard in today’s market.

The Housing Survey also notes that tenants who have remained in their property for ten years or more face much lower rents, on average £123 a week compared with the average £173 paid by those resident for less than three years. This amounts to an average 28% discount in rents. Private tenancies have also reached a record average length of 20 months, showing that landlords are responsive to tenants needs.

RLA Policy Director, Richard Jones commented: “The RLA condemns the scaremongering that Shelter is engaged in. Whilst we agree that a small minority of landlords ruin the lives of tenants and should be banned from renting property, the reality is that the majority of landlords in the country provide a good service.

“At a time when increasing numbers of people are depending on the private rented sector for their housing, Shelter should act more responsibly and not promote inaccurate generalisations which only serve to frighten families into thinking that a majority of landlords can’t wait to throw them out which is nonsense.

“The reality is that landlords will do all they can to keep tenants in their properties rather than face an empty property.

Mr Jones continued: “Shelter are playing a dangerous game by frightening off investors from increasing the supply of much needed private rented housing. Whilst we agree with the need for longer tenancies where needed, Shelter’s calls for universal five year contracts with index linked rent rises would be bad news for families who are presently seeing average rents increase by less than inflation.”

Regulations and red tape – all in a day’s work for landlords!

Almost daily, there are doom and gloom reports about the UK’s property market; on Friday it was all about ‘regulatory overload’ for letting agents and landlords which has led to a driving up of rents for tenants. Indeed, as I was typing this, another headline pops up in my inbox, suggesting the number of renters in severe arrears tops 100,000, which supports the theory I’ve just mentioned.

According to the Residential Landlords Association, there are over 100 individual pieces of legislation and regulations containing around 400 individual measures affecting the private rental sector. Some of these rules date back to the 1700s which begs the question, are they even still relevant?

At a time when the economy is in meltdown, the cost of living has risen and unemployment has reached epidemic proportions, surely these examples of red tape should be brought into the 21st century, reflecting the reality of the market today, rather than how it was in 1730? Perhaps then, tenants and landlords would be better off all around.  Surely it’s time for a change if nothing else.

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