Having repeatedly said that an early election was not envisaged, the Prime Minister, Teresa May, shocked everyone by announcing that there would be a general election on 8th June 2017.
She is in a good poll position at present and it is assumed that she felt that she could consolidate her position as the difficult negotiations proceed for Britain to make its’ dramatic exit from the EU. If this is the case, we can expect Brexit to figure largely in the political broadcasts for every party, but landlords must not miss this unexpected opportunity to bring housing into the debate.
The finances of the country as we go forward outside the European Union are a major concern, but the way the population lives and provision that most basic human need, of somewhere to live, should not be ignored.
Some will baulk at the high cost of another election, so soon after the last; it costs thousands upon thousands to conduct an election (not least in payments made to mainly local authority employees to take part in the count) and this at the same time as mayoral elections in Manchester, Birmingham and other major cities in addition to the local elections. Perhaps now is the time for Nicola Sturgeon to ask for another Scottish referendum – what would one more be, in the scale of things.
The Labour candidate for Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, has already pledged to help the homeless in Manchester, should he be elected. He has promised to give 15% of his salary every year to assist the street homeless.
This is a generous move, but how will this be spent? It is a drop in the ocean and of little use, if it does not come with concrete plans as to how it can be used to successfully turn around the lives of the dozens that are seen on a daily basis on the streets of Manchester, asking pennies for a hot drink. Perhaps Mr. Burnham will look to using his generous impulse to work with private landlords to provide homes?
Perhaps – though Mr. Burnham may not have a high opinion of private landlords as he has said previously he would want to license the whole of the private rental sector in the very large area that constitutes Greater Manchester. Current legislation does not allow for this, but if it is his preferred option to deal with problems in the private sector, it is to be sure that he will do whatever he is able to impose licensing wherever he is able.
We have 4 weeks before the election; take this time to contact your M.P.’s and the opposing candidates; ask them why landlords are not only seen as the bad-guy but also the scape-goat, for whatever bad behaviour a tenant engages in. Remind them of the numbers you house, but tell them what you need to encourage you to continue to house the vulnerable.
A few suggestions – perhaps a speedier eviction process, guaranteed rent paid for the poorest, an advice service where if eviction is unfortunately required, the landlord will be treated with courtesy and not as though he is twirling a black moustache.
Whoever wins the coming election, the issue of private renting must be given a high profile now – because there will not be another chance to have your say in quite this way until 2022. How many landlords will have given up in despair by then?
For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon