The recent raft of huge changes in legislation, tax and eviction costs make it difficult to see them as anything other than an overt challenge to the private rental sector. The same private rental sector courted by Government and local authorities for over 20 years as the means of addressing the shortages in social housing.
The Sheriffs’ Office is now posing the question ‘is the Government anti-landlord?’ The British Property Federation, a national body, also supports the theory that Government is against the private landlord – but why? The ambition is to turn ‘Generation Rent’ into ‘Generation Buy’. Do they intend to do this by squeezing the private landlord out, leaving only the social sector and the purchaser able to obtain accommodation?
Despite the promises made by the current Government and the one that hopes to be in 4 years, the social sector cannot provide all the housing that is required in the immediate future. Even if they were in the long term, this would increase the demand further – expectations would rise. Demand is elastic – it will stretch.
In all the pronouncements made by Shelter, Crisis and others who campaign for more social housing, no account is given of the many, who could be considered vulnerable, that don’t want to live in social housing. They will boast that their families have never lived in social housing. They prefer what they perceive as the better standards of the private sector and the flexibility it gives.
For example, the areas with a good reputation are in high demand for social housing. Consequently, people do not move or will buy their council house at a large discount. The children of families like this also want to stay in a popular area with good schools – but there is no social housing available. They depend on the private sector to meet their needs.
There are also young professionals who are paying off student loans. They don’t want to live, even if they could, in a house on a faceless council estate. They want a good lifestyle, regular foreign holidays. They look for a better quality property in the private sector. They may not be able to raise the average deposit, which can be £20,000 plus in many areas, but can manage a £2,000 deposit and rent costs of £900 to live in a nicer property. These people have no wish be assisted by social housing. They may also be unable to aspire to become ‘Generation-Buy’ for several years, if ever.
The harassment that private sector landlords feel they are suffering, the difficulties in running their property businesses, is not encouraging them to develop their portfolios, or even to keep the properties they have. The years of experience and good management they have will be thrown away because they feel under attack and would rather take their money and invest it in other, less problematic businesses.
The private sector will gradually decrease, there will be less homes available. We are at an interesting period in our history, where, for the last time in a very long time, we must vote on whether we remain in Europe. Whatever views are held one way or another, it seems mad that political opinion seems to be that we should maintain our position as a home-owning nation, alien to much of Europe where families live for generations in rented homes.
When we remember that property prices in London and the South-East mean that teachers, Doctors and nurses cannot afford to buy, to take steps that may deny the hard-working the chance of living in a decent private rented property is spiteful and establishing a precedent for inequality and a lack of choice which will surely lead to unrest in the future.
For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon