Please Note: This Article is 6 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

Landlord bashing appears to be reaching new heights at the moment. The activity has never been one that has been popularly revered, and probably ranks alongside used car salespeople, journalists and dare I say it, politicians, all at the bottom end of the scale of public respect.

The very mention of the word “landlord”, to many carries a 19th century Dickensian era image and stigma; the Scrooge type money grubbing miser, after every penny, and out to exploit rather than help, compounded in the 60s by the likes of criminals like Peter Rachman – images which are hard to erase.

But the typical landlord today is no longer the stereotype wealthy landowner; more likely the striving middle class worker wanting to improve his or her pension nest egg and working hard to provide a good future for the family, whilst at the same time providing a very valuable community service.

I was amazed to see the bitterness and pure vitriol poured onto the pages (on-line comments pages) by tenants and others following a recent article in the Daily Telegraph by Alan Ward, chairman of the Residential Landlords Association. The article was pointing out the success of the private rented sector and buy-to-let and the public service which landlords provide – surprisingly, it seems some don’t agree!

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As stepping onto the housing ladder has become much more difficult, it is perhaps inevitable that attitudes will harden; that so called “Generation Rent” will resent the situation they are in, especially those who have resigned themselves to it.

Anti-landlord attitudes persist and are sustained through certain charitable organisations constantly highlighting the activities of a minority of rogue landlords, as if they apply to all.  In fact tenants’ complaints from social housing tenants usually exceed those in private housing.

In addition, press reports exaggerate the money to be made from renting, usually quoting only gross yields. In fact when running costs are taken into account, immediate returns often can compare unfavourably with the stock market, and landlords have a lot more hassle.

Few tenants appreciate the sheer hard work and stress that the average small amateur landlord (by far the majority) experience when saving for, preparing, letting and managing their buy-to-let.

The tenant charities it seems refuse to recognise that there are probably just as many rouge tenants, if not more, than there are rouge landlords.

It seems they fail to appreciate the risks that all landlords face when they let to a stranger: despite taking all necessary precautions landlords can be stuck with a non-paying tenant, often trashing their property for many months – 9 to 12 months to remove a bad non-paying tenant is by no mean uncommon.

With little hope of recovering their losses, and risking losing their investment property if they can’t afford the mortgage payments, landlords are often failed by an expensive, slow and inefficient legal process where decisions often appear to defy logic.

Despite lots of government encouragement, the industry still fails to attract large corporate investors in rental housing. The fact is, just like local councils, companies find it less than cost effective to provide the services that the large army of private landlords does virtually for free.

Small private landlords often do all their own repairs and maintenance, cleaning and preparing their properties between tenancies, and don’t charge for their time. In fact they can’t even claim their own time against income, for tax purposes.

Yes, at the fringes of the activity some housing stock is in desperate need of improvement. But this is also true of some council housing as well.

Financial incentives to make improvements and more rigorous attempts by local government to actually enforce the existing rules against the minority of delinquent landlords; this would be far preferable and more effective than creating more and more rules and regulations.

There will always be a small proportion of rogue landlords, just as on the other side of the coin, there are many rogue tenants.

Good landlords decry the rogues as much as anyone else and constantly lobby the authorities to do something about them. There are adequate laws in place to bring rogues to justice, but enforcement is where government falls down.

Despite the problems, and the landlord-tenant relationship will always create some, most independent opinion surveys show that by far the majority of private tenants are very happy with the service their landlords are providing.

I think landlords and landlord representatives should seriously consider a major campaign to redress the balance here; to put the other point of view across to the general public and to highlight the good work that landlords are doing in their communities.

Tom Entwistle – Editor
27 June 2014

Please Note: This Article is 6 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.
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9 COMMENTS

  1. It\’s sour grapes as usual. People love finding a scapegoat to implicate when they are unhappy with their lot, whether it be their job, their home, you name it. And I have to say it\’s a very British preoccupation. It\’s true – people here deeply resent those who have more than they do, those who have something they haven\’t \”worked for\” (i.e. inherited wealth), and those who perhaps just worked very hard all their lives to create security for themselves and their families. You don\’t get this vitriolic prejudice in the States – there is no \’landlord-bashing\’ like there is here, and America is the international centre of capitalism. Different culture – less moaners.

  2. That sounds like a good idea in some ways, but I think you\’d come up against a similar situation as the comments in the Daily Telegraph article referred to in this editorial, which were so hugely negative. I\’m not a landlord so have no vested interest, but I suspect that you would just have similarly negative biassed comments from tenants. I\’m sure that in some cases they would not be unfounded, but in too many cases I suspect tenants would give negative reviews for similar reasons, especially if they got into a dispute with their landlord and were asked to leave, or for any number of reasons. How would you be able to tell the difference between genuine issues and just cases of chronic and unfounded discontent and spite?

  3. \’The tenant charities it seems refuse to recognise that there are probably just as many rouge tenants, if not more, than there are rouge landlords.\’

    So, there are a lot of rouge (red) faced people out there, rather than rogues (bad behaving persons)?!

    There needs to be more positive info about Landlords – joining Accreditation Schemes and local Police rating Schemes help promote good practices & Landlords. I know I am fed up with being tarred with a bad brush because I am a Landlord – but I do believe in treating people how you wish you would like to be treated.

  4. I agree with everything written on behalf of landlords but if you make one error you are in danger of discrediting your argument. You said \”In fact they can’t even claim their own time against income\” but if they were to bill their time to the business then the time they bill would be taxable income so it would make no difference.

  5. SHELTER is one of the worst sites, it almost paints every landlord as a rogue, reminding tenants of their rights. Although there are good tenants, there are many bad ones. They may pay their rent on time, but tey can devalue a property by more than any rents received. Buy to Let is not a big money earner, it returns little when the property is at risk. I am selling my properties because I can\’t stand the ever increasing amount of bad tenants.

  6. It appears that the government and some tenants want their cake and eat it. If they push too far they will end up with neither because we can always sell at the end of the day and if enough small investors decide enough is enough then where will the government be. Government jobs have now been transferred to the work place with high penalties for getting it wrong. Most of which the average person has no training for. Now they want to penalise us for their inneficient housing strategies. We are providing them with a valuable altrenative to the housing rental crisis due partly to over entry on immigration which they appear not to appreciate. It does not pay to be British any more in this country and I am getting heatily sick of it all. Perhaps we should leave the government to it and take our pittances elsewhere in the world.

  7. I believe property letting generally does need to become more professional – more landlord accreditation, etc without taking such a heavy handed approach as over use of \”selective\” licensing – which only discourages landlords. Also, I welcome the move that will ensure all letting agents will need to belong to a trade association. Good managing agents are needed where landlords are too inexperienced or not available to manage their own properties. This would go some way toward improving the image of a sector that\’s not a particularly easy option – it\’s not just about buying a property and renting it out and then you can forget all about it.
    However, even with all this in place some sectors of society are still going to be extremely envious and violently opposed to landlords – I read similar comments in the papers about 5 years ago when I was still a civil servant – they were only happy when civil servants suffered mass redundancies (they believed civil servants had cushy jobs, and got better pay, pensions and job security at the tax payer\’s expense). It\’s funny that no one seems to moan about the money that professional footballers get (more in a week than most us see in a year), or no one criticizes supermarkets as exploiting people by taking money off them for a vital service that they do little or nothing to actually produce…

  8. I too am heartily sick of being a landlord. I am selling out two properties as soon as I can next year. One one property, due to various repairs, compliances with the law and a rogue tenant, I got back 12% of the rent for the whole year. and yes, on another property, a year ago I almost had a complete nervous breakdown with considerable detriment to my health due to a very evil and ill-intentioned tenant. The cost of loss of rent, legal advice cost me many thousands of pounds. When I sell next year the money is going to sit in the bank whether the rate of interest is high or not, can\’t wait.

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