RLA chairman, Alan Ward, gives his thoughts on the year that has passed, and the challenges to come in 2013.
The last 12 months have been a busy and significant period for the Residential Landlords’ Association, as well as one of extreme challenges.
As our news review of the year – ‘2012: According to the RLA’ – highlights, not a month has passed without a significant issue arising for the private rented sector (PRS).
With 2012 now coming to a close, it is a perfect opportunity to look back at the year and consider the challenges we have faced, how we have combated them, and how we can take forward our work into the New Year.
2012: The challenges we have faced
The RLA has been forthright in standing up for landlords’ interests, whilst being pragmatic enough to understand that happy tenants make for a better perceived PRS. With those two thoughts in mind, we have worked with, and sometimes against, Government, local authorities, and other housing organisations.
Some of the challenges during 2012 have included:
- Increasing bureaucracy and changing legislation at local and national level; with the imposition of such measures as selective licensing, Article 4 Directions, mandatory tenancy deposit protection schemes, welfare reform, and health and safety legislation;
- On-going economic uncertainty, creating narrower profit margins and less opportunities for investment; and,
- The continuing presence of criminal landlords in the private rented sector that is damaging the good name of the majority of landlords.
2012: The work we have undertaken
The RLA has responded to these challenges by increasing its campaigning activity, and unveiling proposals for a better PRS. In 2012, we have:
- Listened to members and responded to Government consultations such as the Red Tape Challenge.
- Unveiled, cost-neutral tax reform proposals to allow such measures as roll-over relief on capital gains tax, and self-invested pension plans for landlords.
- Continuously challenged local authorities looking to impose landlord licensing and/or Article 4 Directions.
- Given evidence to Government Select Committees.
- Met cross-party politicians and policy chiefs at national and local level to promote the cause of the PRS – including meetings at 10 Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament.
- Kept members informed with regular briefings and communications.
- Worked with our Scottish and Welsh partners to ensure that a true national voice for landlords is heard.
2012: Our successes
Our work has paid off, and in 2012 our successes included:
- Attracting a record number of members – almost 14,000 in England and Wales, and our policy partnership with the Scottish Association of Landlords means that we have a combined membership of over 20,000, making us the largest group of landlords in the UK.
- Positive changes to the law – such as the introduction of new squatting laws that now criminalise squatting in English and Welsh residential properties.
- Successfully opposing proposed legislation – such as the EU mortgage directive, that would have banned the disclosure of rental profits in buy-to-rent mortgage applications
- Launching Homes for Britain – a collective voice for the housing industry, involving five other core partners, and over 40 supporting organisations, which is now proving highly influential in the corridors of power.
- Celebrating the first birthday of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Private Rented Sector – we lobbied hard for the creation of the APPG and provide its secretariat, and it now enjoys a membership of over 60 cross-party Parliamentary politicians.
- Launching DepositGuard – a bespoke deposit protection scheme, that provides landlords with an insurance-based deposit scheme offering the best rates in the market.
- Launching RLA Mortgages – to provide landlords with highly competitive broker rates and innovative mortgage products.
- Working with local authorities to improve local housing policy – including;
All this hard work culminated just a few weeks ago, when the RLA was crowned ‘Association of the Year’ at the Landlord and Letting Awards – securing our position as the country’s preeminent landlords association.
All thanks to your support
None of the above could have been possible without the input that you and the rest of our supporters have provided in 2012. Therefore, I would like to thank you for your assistance; and, as we work to build on the successes and hard work of the last 12 months, I look forward to your continued support in 2013.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
Residential Landlords’ Association