Two sides of the renting coin – strong views about landlords and tenants

With the stay on possession claims about to lift there have been some wildly varying opinions written about what may result.

Shelter, on one side, is claiming that hundreds of thousand of renters are in imminent peril of losing their homes. The National Residential Landlords Association, on the other hand, has done an excellent job of very vocally challenging Shelter’s claims.

Here are two more views. One from a well known London agent who see boths sides of the letting coin. The other from a writer who, it must be said, does not seem to much like the concept of landord and tenant.

Director of Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr.

“Many will have found themselves in financial trouble due to the current pandemic, with some unable to pay their rent as a result and there’s no doubt this is a terrible situation to be in.

“Unfortunately, it isn’t the responsibility of UK landlords to take this financial hit on behalf of their tenants and to expect them to continue to is somewhat unfair, considering they have already done so for some months having had no choice in the matter.

“Those tenants who have found themselves in financial hardship due to the coronavirus have now had time to seek alternative living arrangements without the pressure of eviction. In any other scenario, it’s unlikely they would have been afforded this luxury.

“It’s also incredibly unfair not to consider the landlord in this scenario as many are reliant on rental payments in order to survive and have had no choice but to swallow this loss of income due to the eviction ban.

“Of course, there will always be a few unscrupulous landlords wanting to evict their tenants, but the reality is that the vast majority of landlords have been working with their tenants to reach an agreement that suits all parties, in what has been a tough few months for all. So the reports that many will now end up without a home are perhaps a tad exaggerated at the very least.

“In contrast, some landlords have been held to ransom by unsavoury tenants who have seen an opportunity to play the game knowing they can’t be evicted.

“We have one tenant who fell into arrears before the pandemic and was afforded the necessary grace periods in which to sort themselves out. With the ban introduced soon after, they now keep stating to both the landlord and us ‘go and speak to Boris, I don’t have to leave’.

“In this instance, the landlord is already £50,000 out of pocket and while the end of the eviction ban means he can now start proceedings, given the backlog, he is unlikely to even get a court date for three if not four months.

“Then if he gets an eviction date it is likely to take another three or four months to get the bailiffs in, so he may have to wait up to eight months to get his property back and by then he will be another £50,000 out of pocket.

“This will be an issue that will now plague the rental market for many months and as ever, landlords are the ones getting hit by ill-thought-out initiatives

“As with most aspects of current life, returning to normality isn’t an easy process and there are no quick fixes in many cases. However, return to reality we must and removing the ban on rental evictions is the next, necessary step in doing this within the property industry.”

 

Meanwhile, and with a rather different take on the situation, on the website Open Democracy, Jacob Stringer, a housing researcher and campaigner, and a member of London Renters Union writes under the headline:

As courts re-open, Britain’s renters must confront the power of landlords

There was a moment, just after the declaration of lockdown, with the immediate loss of jobs and hours, when it seemed that a rent strike might be inevitable. Many members of London Renters Union thought there might finally be a moment of unity between renters affected by the pandemic that could be leveraged into much greater power against landlords. When evictions were temporarily suspended some members grew even more excited: for once private renters did not have the sword of Damocles hanging over them. This was the moment to strike!…

The reason the rent strike has not taken off can be summed up in one word: fear. Private renters in London have learned to fear their landlords, even when courts are closed and possession orders can’t be issued. In the same way that fear of the boss at work can be qualified by the notion that ‘you can just get another job’, fear of the landlord is qualified by market relations that say there is always the option to move house…

But one of the many problems of London’s exploitative rental market is that it isn’t that easy to move. On benefits? Forget it, says the letting agent. Low income? Give us six months rent up front. Pets? Nope. Children? We’d rather not. No good references? You deserve the street. Visa documents? Too much trouble to check. Poor credit? Don’t waste our time. You want the ‘luxury’ of a sitting room for your family? With your income you’ll get cockroaches with that…

Private renters may not have the upper hand yet, but we can make it clear that the power of landlords will not go unopposed. If enough people join in with eviction resistance over the coming year we can get the voice of private renters heard, and we may just begin to change the balance of power between renter and landlord.

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9 Comments

  1. MickRoberts

    Jacob Stringer may be talking about a certain area London, I don’t know, I don’t live there. But he hasn’t got a clue about other areas.
    Landlords spend an initial fortune to get house ready, Landlord doesn’t want to evict a paying tenant, Landlord NEEDS the money coming in.
    And to talk about not taking Pets etc. That’s all people’s like him’s fault for calling for it to be made illegal to charge Pet deposits. Landlords now can’t take an extra £200 to cover pet damage so they just not taking any pets, whereas before Pet owners had a choice to pay a touch more deposit, if no damage, all deposit back.

    I feel for tenants lately, they really struggling all cause or over-onerous regulation placed on Landlords which has impacted on the tenants.

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  2. DASH94

    Call me cynical but headlines screaming ‘landlords to be prevented from evicting for rent arrears due to covid’ or words to that effect, will, in my opinion encourage some renters not to pay their rent even when they can afford it.

    As Mick Roberts says – a lot of the thinking on this is London-centric and the picture elsewhere in the country is vastly different.

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    1. MickRoberts

      I got it as soon as Corbyn announced it, good tenants getting full benefits asking for Rent Holiday. When their beneftits was paying the rent anyway. Corbyn instantly made it worse for tenants long term, more Landlords had enough packing up.

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  3. Will2

    Recently offered a flat in the Medway Towns and had around 110 requests (over a 14 day period)  for a viewing from many people who could not afford the rent or had a bad credit history. There was very little on the market in a 5 mile radius.  My guess is that landlords are leaving in their droves. S21 abolition proposals have, in my opinion, triggered this exodus of landlords who had had enough.  It is an area of relatively low rent and repossessions are probably quite high and suply of social housing inadequate. The fear a landlord cannot get his/her property back easily or without MASSIVE DELAYS & MASSIVELY INCREASED COSTS abolishing S21 will bring is, I believe, massively reducing supply which will get worse. This is like the pet problem multiplied significantly.  However our blind and often stupid government and certain housing charitites will continue their anti landlord drive like a blind motorist until there is a deadly crash.  With those levels of demand why would any landlord even wish to even vaguely consider an applicant who is less than an excellent risk?  Unlike government & housing charities landlords have to do due diligence to protect the position when government and charities can afford to act more recklessly with  the “free money” they get from government and donations. As for the London Renters Union, perhaps they do not even realise how rediculous they sound – would they really like the communist lifestyle?  Try Russia or China to live where total state control adversely impacts on those at the lower end of the scale to a greater degree whilst the elite are even stronger and omipotent.

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    1. MickRoberts

      Your words are perfect, everyone should use the same to send to the imbecile MP’s

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      1. Will2

        Well Mick our politicians seem to have decided to further slaughter landlords.  They are so foolish with their knee jerk reactions of extending the  ban on evictions for another 4 weeks and requiring 6 months notice to evict tenants announced today.  I guess this may be a crude response to to prevent landlords leaving in their droves.  However in the long term the knee jerk reaction just makes them look like jerks!  Between the Government and a well known so called housing charity they are finding it difficult to address problems without the use of bullying tactics.  One might think they may have learn with the teenagers exam results where the politicians cant think things through and rely on badly programmed computers to make decisions and then have to do a reverse.  It seems Eton is no longer producing the right level of education perhaps in their bubble they are absent of common sense. In days of your it would have been called “cutting off the hand that feeds you” ie screw your landlords that can house people and drive them out of the market so you have less housing to provide to those desperate tenants. Screw them so they are forced to tighten up their own controls and protection.  6 months notice to quit means any landlord blessed with common sense will either sell up and get out or make sure his proposed tenant is such a good character and with a well secured job that you would not want them to leave.  As for the lesser tenants who need to be  advised by shelter and the like you would wish to  steer miles them away from any decent landlords property.  As it is my suitability criteria for tenants keeps tightening up every time these eton educated clowns introduce another bully boy tactic. Writing to your ESN MP will acknowlegde your communication (as they have to) and file it in the ignore bin.  Hey because they are soo foolish they always think they know best. History tells us different.  I guess many will think its a shame they are incapable to dealing with a load of dingies in the channel carrying unknowns from abroad.  They house them in 4* hotels now 4,000 0r 5,000 of them – perhaps its a government scheme to help the hotel business?  Who knows with such bizzare logic.

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        1. MickRoberts

          Cutting off the hand that feeds u is exactly right.That’s what’s happening also, Landlord being super selective if he does carry on, No UC tenants for me please.Let’s turn it round and exaggerate this. U let Landlord evict after 2 weeks of non payment, he gets his house back, minimum cost, he rents again. Next Landlord thinks this isn’t bad, I’m gonna buy some more, at least I don’t have to wait 6+ months to go to court with no income in to evict. More Landlords more houses. Rents fall. Tenants have a choice. Tenants especially vulnerable ones can’t move anywhere at moment. U let Landlords get their property back sooner if no rent and damage, and more will buy. Tenants ten years ago if they din’t like something, they’d just move, it was easy for them. Landlord had to be half alright or he din’t have a tenant.

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  4. jeremy1960

    As a landlord and agent I can see this car crash happening in the very near future! As a landlord and agent I take a very measured view when selecting tenants and unfortunately as the PRS shrinks and the pool of tenants grows selection of tenants will become more stringent.

    What is desperately needed is for Government to stop funding those who continuously knock the PRS such as polly and her merry men at shelter and spend the money on expanding the social housing sector to provide shelter for the homeless/those unsuitable for the PRS.

    Those tenants who experienced difficulty during the Covid crisis have been given lots of assistance from government and local authorities, additionally they have been able to apply for payment holidays for finance/cars, Marc is correct, they should have used the time that gov bought them to reassess their situation and make their lifestyle fit their income rather than sitting back and waiting for the car crash.

    Very soon those that did nothing will find themselves unable to secure housing in the PRS, organisations such as acorn, shelter, London renters union et al need to take a long hard look at themselves as it is they who are making the situation worse coupled with poor decisions at local and national gov levels. If they have so much energy & passion they should turn it towards getting gov to act rather than knocking landlords!

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  5. PossessionFriendUK39

    Picking up just a few points from London Rent-Dodgers Union ( LRU’s ) article as some have touched upon, above. The Fear and precarity of renters ? There is always a balance of EVERYTHING, finance, power, jobs etc. 
    To quote Stringer, fear of a landlord is like fear of your boss at work  –  yet English Housing Survey shows 84% of tenants satisfied. ( more Shelter-like scare-mongering that ultimately will Not help the majority of tenants   – but may help a small minority )
     
    The smarter tenants will see that Stringer is ‘stringing tenants along.’ Lets look at that minority, as the article mentions tenants who are loathe to complain, as they are $crew’ing the system rather than their landlords, and that’s why they won’t “rock the boat ”  e.g. Visa documents missing, No recourse to public funds and afraid landlord would report them to Universal credit ( because they’re $crew’ing the Tax-payer. )  
     
    Then there’s complaints about the cost of rents in London with tenants expecting a sitting room on a studio flat’s rent.  Might as well complain about the cost of a loaf of bread.     
    Live where you can afford, or cut ones cloth as they say. LRU, like other tenant support groups, fail to realise that for every Two tenants that join aggressive Tenant associations, there’s likely one more rental property going to be sold and reducing the rental opportunity further and  probably increasing costs.
     
    Does LRU think that less rental choice – availability is going to help or Harm tenants ? – As Clint would say, ‘Do ya feel lucky.’

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