Despite what is a clear favouring of home ownership as the Governments’ tenure of choice, buy to let investment and the private sector is growing and has been for the last decade.
Whilst the Baby-boomers saw home-ownership as the sector in which to live and raise families, there are currently about 1.5 million families with children now living in the private sector.
Once seen as a first home for the young, now half of private sector tenancies are held by people aged over 35. According to The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, at least another 1.8 million households will be looking for a private rented property by 2025, whether because of a positive choice to rent or because purchase is impossible.
These should be good times for landlords and buy to let investment, with tenants queuing up for good quality properties and this is definitely the case for many landlords. However, this ever-increasing demand is not always good news for tenants.
There is the prospect of rents rising in areas of highest demand, but perhaps more worrying are the bad landlords. The ‘Rogues’ that bring disrepute to the sector and to the very many excellent landlords who provide good accommodation and behave fairly to their tenants. They target the vulnerable, those that are most difficult to house, and least likely to argue about properties that are substandard.
Included in this group are newcomers to the country, the illegal immigrants; but let us not forget those that are here legally, but may be totally unaware of what they should be able to expect and do not have sufficiently good language skills to be able to obtain the advice they need.
Over a million private renters in England are believed to have been victims of rogue landlords in 2016, according to statistics provided by Shelter and YouGov. This seems a very high figure, but as a number of very serious transgressions were reported – each of which would be considered illegal eviction or harassment – can this be fact rather than exaggeration?
The most common complaints from tenants were: landlords entering the property without permission; cutting off necessary utilities; locks being changed to deny tenants access; abuse, threats and harassment because of race, nationality, gender or sexual orientation. These are criminal offences, but how many of them reach the appropriate authorities? If these statistics are correct, can we assume 1 million + have? If so, the Courts would have been fully occupied, every working hour of the year!
The rogue landlord has been high on the political agenda for several years. The Housing and Planning Act, 2016, introduced measures which the Government felt would address issues with rogue landlords and enable local authorities to tackle criminal landlords, including a database of rogue landlords, banning orders and new offences where landlords repeatedly neglect to carry out right to rent checks and failure to take steps to remove illegal immigrants from their properties.
Bad landlords must be removed from the sector, but much of this legislation is aimed at landlords that are below the radar. I do not believe that the supposed 1 million who are estimated as victims would all be hit by these new measures.
The private sector will continue to grow and needs to, with new investment to meet the demand both now and in the future. If this is to happen, a little more concentration on the work of the good landlord would offer some encouragement. A concentration on the negative aspects of poor landlords will alienate these much-needed providers of quality accommodation.
For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon