LETTER: Nowhere for renters to go if there are no landlords left

A reader discusses being a landlord, and the need for them in society.

To Let signs.
To Let signs.

Speaking as a landlord, (only two properties), I am wondering if there will be any landlords left soon? A lot of people think that will be a good thing. Not if you are a tenant it’s not. Nowhere to go, because there will be no property for you. This is mainly due to the overprotection of tenants against “exploitation” making landlords sell up. Property no longer makes a profit for me. I hang on for my pension to kick in. If not for that I would be “financially embarrassed” as they say in polite society.

I found one of my ex tenants sleeping on a palate in the basement storage of a cafe with a wife just about to give birth who begged me to let him rent my flat. The sensible thing to do was walk away. No references, a recent immigrant, benefits, part time work as labourer. As soon as he was in there he said, “This is my home now, I live here” and refused to pay rent. Thanks pal. In advance I had expected a six thousand pound loss but against that I thought what if his child dies? I chose to accept the risk as an act of charity. I told myself I would never be a bad landlord who exploited tenants. So now he had a flat but also quite legally kept his housing benefit. Evidently the government thought it beneficial that such people learn to budget as a socially valid lifestyle experience. The council even provided him with a mentor so he could stay in the property for as long as possible. That way I was the one to foot his housing bill. However I was lucky. It only, yes only, cost me £12,000. The average amount amongst other landlords I spoke to was £33,000. (OK central London), and yes I have made a great deal of money on the place but it had been my home and I worked hard for it back in the day. My tenant even complained about his free accommodation. It did not have a view of the Thames like his last place. As his mate told me all his other places were better. So how many “other places” had he lived in before he had the palate experience? I bet he did not pay a penny.

That was a London but I have had similar, if not worse, in Shropshire. Drugs being sold to kids in my garden by someone who killed one of them with his sword. (The Judge said he was convinced he had acted in self defence!) Curtains set on fire by said drug seller, furniture slashed. Ok he was a guest of the tenant but you do not need it do you?

Unsurprisingly I now have very much more strict criteria for my tenants. I do not care that Shelter and similar say one cannot discriminate against DHSS. I do not discriminate against these people because my criteria is that tenants are financially sound and in full employment, and I am allowed to specify such people so the choice never arises. I am not forced to take on bad risks just like banks are not forced to lend to bad risks.

I had one applicant recently who did not even have the holding deposit of £161. He was found by an estate agent who wanted £700 for finding this person, plus £190 for the credit check. If you can call it that. I did not turn him away. He just found some other mug to persuade. Oh yes, now I would have had to pay all the other fees he would run up. In the end I paid £129 in total for an internet company and that is every thing including a proper credit check. A proper credit check from any estate agent is a collectors item and worth framing. Usually not worth the paper it’s printed on.

My point is this. If landlords are forced by law to operate under increasingly ludicrous and extortionate legislation they will sell up. There will not be a private rental sector. I think that as soon as the brakes come off banning evictions there will be a flood of evictions and property sales and who ends up paying the massive bill? You do. Yes the taxpayer will have to fork out for the £200 per night London hotel or similar for the homeless. Are they happy in these hotels? No, always whining and moaning. I have seen and heard them.

I used to get three or four applications for my property, now twenty or thirty. Soon it will be even more and most are decent people. It is heartbreaking to just not be able to find a place for all of them and I mean not just heartbreaking but devastating. In the same area as losing your job or seeing friends fall on hard times. Sometimes left wing good intentions are simply imbecilic failures. There used to a working and fair system and stupid people have destroyed it.

Robin Lloyd, Ellesemere

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