Opinion

My 2015 Christmas Message

Alan Ward
Written by Alan Ward

Why are there no jokes about landlords? As I pondered this Christmas message I thought my fellow landlords might like a bit of light relief.

But the prospect of a levy on stamp duty and loss of mortgage interest relief, Right-to-Rent immigration checks, unpaid rents from Universal Credit, future licensing of almost any shared property, rent repayment orders, landlord banning orders, and a big, bad landlord list would wipe the smile from any of us.

And if you rent in Wales, you could be thinking the revolution has come as you now need a licence and training to be a landlord.

Not so much red tape as Blue Tory tape or Green Welsh Tape. It’s enough to make you weep.

Only Jeremy’s prospect of rent controls and one-sided three year tenancies with a tenant’s right to buy thrown in, makes the Tories sound like landlords’ paradise.

After all, as landlords we are trying to provide not just for our own financial independence but funding rented housing – a vital social resource which would otherwise be a public cost.

Yet Voldemort’s summer budget and autumn statement makes Muggles of us: denying our ability. Private landlords are the backbone of the PRS and it will be many a year before the Dark Lord’s corporate investors replace us.

This year I welcome our very own Dumbledore, a legal wizard ready for political battle, David Smith as RLA policy director. Predecessor Richard Jones is supposed to have retired, but is still dealing with legacy issues on tax and energy.

In 2015 your RLA has :

  • Attended more government meetings than any other landlord organisation
  • Led for landlords on tax, welfare reform, immigration, regulation and enforcement, energy efficiency, Flood-re and licensing
  • Battled on behalf of our landlords in Wales against the fiery dragon of licensing and new legislation
  • Published the first ever manifesto for PRS housing in January – which is quoted extensively in a Commons’ Library briefing for MPs post-election
  • Launched an interactive election website which attracted more than 20,000 page views
  • Run the secretariat of the PRS All Party Group of MPs and Peers at Westminster
  • Seen the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors made compulsory in all rental properties – part of our manifesto proposals
  • Worked to change the Deregulation Act to protect deposits, with amendments written by the RLA’s former policy director Richard Jones and tabled by Philip Davies MP accepted by the Government had amendments tabled to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill in the House of Lords on rent arrears, access to information on Universal Credit claims and emphasis on tenant choice related to the payment of housing benefit
  • Promoted a Private Members’ Bill to require councils tax forms to include tenure
  • Launched the Safe and Secure home website
  • Met Chancellor George Osborne privately and had five meetings with Treasury officials following the July Budget announcement on MIR
  • Had the best ever year for RLA training – including the launch of joint NVQ courses with the Chartered Institute of Housing
  • Achieved record media coverage for landlords in national and broadcast media including the Financial Times, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Guardian, Huffington Post, New Statesman , City AM, Economist, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC News, ITV News and LBC Radio.

While 2015 has been no laughing matter for landlords it has been fantastic for membership growth. Almost 5,000 new landlords have joined this year – with numbers boosted by welcoming NW Property Owners Association, swelling membership to 20,000 subscribers this year.

My thanks to you all for your support, without which none of our work would be possible.

But whatever your market, wherever you are, all of us at your RLA wish you a successful 2016. We look forward to helping you and all our members to a profitable and trouble-free year ahead.

Yours sincerely

Alan Ward
Chairman
award@rla.org.uk

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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