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Landlords show fighting spirit

Alan Ward
Written by Alan Ward

Bah humbug said Scrooge – and so might I.

Politics is a strange world, and the year’s events (Trump, Brexit and elsewhere in Europe) are topsy-turvy. But I still find it strange that Britain’s best and most effective form of housing provision is coming under such consistent attack.

Should I depress you with a blow-by-blow account of the assaults upon the private rented sector?

No – ‘tis a time to be cheerful. And thankful for the fighting spirit of RLA landlords.

Your RLA has seen unprecedented support this year – with almost 600 of you writing to your MPs about Clause 24 and other legislation.

Our campaign opposing the changes to MIR built up significant political backing – and while calls for a judicial review into Clause 24 failed, the RLA fights on for the new rules to cover new borrowing only.

In 2016 we

  • Increased our research –  published three in-depth reports in six months
  • Campaigned on a housing manifesto in the London mayoral elections
  • Successfully backed landlords in McDonald v McDonald and Leeds v Broadley court cases
  • Examined the growth of Airbnb and its impact on the supply of rental homes in London
  • Successfully campaigned for amendments to protect landlords in the Immigration Bill
  • Been to No10, The Treasury and Bank of England to present RLA policies to top officials
  • Fought local licensing plans everywhere!
  • Battled to kick out the crooks – a fight being taken on though the new register of rogues and the introduction of civil penalties in the next Housing Bill
  • Helped protect your money supporting the measures for client money protection (CMP)
  • Revealed 100,000 properties had wrongly classified EPCs
  • Fought tooth and nail in Wales for fair legislation under Rent Smart Wales

However, there is no doubt that a storm is brewing in the PRS.

Since 1986 an average of 200,000 new dwellings have been added to the private rented sector each year by landlords like you and me. That’s three million in total.

But the extra three-percent stamp duty and MIR changes can only push rents higher as landlords try to protect their businesses.

Let us be clear, this isn’t just about profits. Some of you will have to do this just to break even.

More worrying, 25% of landlords either have or are in the process of selling homes. Some are giving up altogether. All due to the Government’s changes. And 2017 will add tenant fees from agents to the mix.

The good news is, it isn’t all doom and gloom.

Interest rates remain low, which is good news for those of you with mortgages to pay and for those selling homes. Investment is continuing and confidence, which took a knock after Brexit recovered quickly.

It is now down to you – the individual landlords – to decide whether you put rents up, change agents, or take the leap and self-manage.

The RLA is here to help you every step of the way, with advice, documents, deposits and training and dealing with tenant problems.

Almost 5,500 new landlords have already joined the RLA this year, swelling membership to 29,200.

We have trained more than 4,000 people both in the classroom and online and have provided a massive 46,000 responses to members’ problems.

So as 2017 dawns, take heart.

Yes, there will be challenges.

And we will be fighting for your rights, right by your side as you face them.

So, as we celebrate this festive season the last word should go, not to Scrooge, but tiny Tim –  God Bless us, every one!

Wherever you are, ALL of us at your RLA wish you a very Happy Christmas and successful 2017.

About the author

Alan Ward

Alan Ward

Alan is the Chairman of the RLA. He has been a landlord and property developer in the PRS since 1993, became a founding director in 1998, and has been the RLA chairman since 2008.

He believes the PRS provides an essential service to the nation with little recognition for its economic contribution. He says regulation is pointless without effective enforcement, and that requires an intelligence-lead approach to target the criminals.

He has faith in the well-meaning majority of landlords to self-regulate. He despises the criminals and frauds who disproportionately concentrate the minds of those in Westminster and town halls.

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