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Mismatched policy punishing good landlords

Douglas Haig
Written by Douglas Haig

The conflict between Welsh housing policy and Westminster economics is making life more and more difficult for landlords in Wales to operate, according to RLA Vice-chair Douglas Haig.

Douglas, who is also RLA Director for Wales said that the 90%of landlords who are complying with the rules and regulations are being punished for the actions of the criminal minority, making it more and more difficult for good tenants to find a home.

The article below is adapted from a speech given by Douglas to the Wales Policy Forum. He said:   

“It’s odd that over the last 10 years our industry, at a UK level, has experienced record growth, yet concern and worry among landlords is high.

Most people reading this would agree that we want good responsible landlords to continue offering accommodation, and we should be doing more to encourage that.

At the same time, we are misrepresented by the media and misunderstood by the politicians, because horror stories make more headlines, and bad landlords fill the post bags of MPs and AMs.

We hear next to nothing about the tens of thousands of landlords offering safe and secure accommodation, or a whole range of people including families, young professionals, homeless, refugees and those with different and sometimes very complex needs.

Good landlords are the ones we want to represent and promote. They work without creating a fuss for enforcement teams or their tenants, carrying out their work swiftly and in a professional manner.

This is reflected in the 90% satisfaction ratings in the National Survey for Wales, which is higher than the social sector (83%).

Landlords in Wales have seen big changes over the last few years and there are more to come. The Welsh Government has vowed to keep improving the sector, which in principle we support – the big question has always been ‘how?’.

For many landlords the introduction of Rent Smart Wales (RSW) has provided little if any benefit, and certainly not value for money.

Criminal landlords, the ones we want out of the sector, are unlikely to bring themselves forward, and data leaks from RSW have done little to improve landlords’ confidence in the scheme.

The Renting Homes Act will rewrite contracts across Wales, implement new fitness standards, and a completely new set of rules, requirements and regulations for landlords to work with.

If you’ve been a landlord silently and diligently working with your tenants for 30-plus years, this results in a lot of change and there are few resources currently available to implement this.

At the same time the Welsh Government has introduced wholescale changes to the PRS, Westminster has changed the economics which underpin the housing market.

Westminster has introduced the 3% levy, restricted mortgage interest relief, scrapped the Green Deal, scrapped landlord energy saving allowance, and other improvement grants, as well as removing the fair wear and tear allowance landlords were allowed to claim.

As a result, the PRS in Wales suffers a mismatch between a Westminster economic policy and a Welsh social policy.

When you put the Wales changes and the Westminster economics together, we can see very little incentive for good landlords to continue offering accommodation to the groups that need it the most.

All of this means that those sleeping on the streets and those struggling to find a decent home will have fewer and fewer options available to them.

We want to see the criminal landlords removed just as much as anybody else.  But we can’t carry on painting the sector with one big brush, or keep introducing a wish list of regulations that makes it more difficult for the 90% that operate without any issues.

We should be using the regulations and power we have already to target the small percentage of criminals and work with the 90% to improve things further.

If we want to encourage the good landlords to keep going, keep housing the homeless, professionals, and families, in safe and secure accommodation, the Welsh Government needs to seriously consider the heavy-handed approach to regulating the sector, change its intentions with the 3% land transaction surcharge and importantly, change the message it’s sending to the good landlords that are out there.”

About the author

Douglas Haig

Douglas Haig

Douglas is the Vice-Chairman and Director for Wales of the Residential Landlord Association and also runs a group of companies involved in management, maintenance, sales and lettings of residential and commercial properties covering Wales and parts of England as well as being a landlord himself.

As Chair of the Cardiff Landlord Forum for five years he has represented private landlord interests to local authorities and as Director for Wales he is in regular talks with all parties in Welsh Government about the future of the PRS in Wales. He is a member of the Cross Party Housing and Fuel Poverty Groups and has been active in the stakeholder groups of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 and Renting Homes (Wales) Bills and has represented the RLA at the Welsh Affairs Select Committee in Westminster. Douglas is keen to listen and represent good landlords and allow them to operate in an environment that enables them to provide high quality, safe housing which is a good long term investment.

1 Comment

  • Entirely agree, especially about RSW. What a waste of time and money. Why are we, the good Landlords more efficient than they are? All we have had is inaccuracies, deprived of money we could have spent on the premises, wrong information, and worry.

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