The Secret Landlord, author of new book Parasite – The Secret Diary of a Landlord sets out her unfettered views of the current debate about evictions during the pandemic and beyond.
It’s an opinion many working in housing won’t like. But evicting tenants is part and parcel of the business of being a landlord.
It is, for want of a better word, a tool of the trade. Admittedly, emotionally, not a very nice one. But, when I decide to evict a tenant, it is wholly a business choice.
It could be because the tenant has not paid the rent, the property needs to be sold, or maybe that the property no longer makes financial sense. In all scenarios, the context is economic: Evictions are an economic choice.
This line of thinking seems to have escaped many politicians and housing charities who accuse landlords of having some sort of personal agenda.
‘Revenge evictions’ made the headlines for a bit, and then the government brought in more legislation outlawing that sort of behaviour.
The language was emotive, socially shaming, and likely due to a small number of rogue landlords who mucked it up for the vast majority following the not inconsiderable rule book.
The main problem which many people can’t get their head around is: evictions are normal. And maybe it’s unpleasant to realise they are a cost of doing business, but ignoring the reality doesn’t make this situation go away. Legislating to pretend things are otherwise is dangerous and damaging to the entire housing sector.
Redundancies, restructuring and letting staff go are a necessary part of running a business. And it’s sad when people lose their jobs, but it’s a fact of business. No matter what the government do, they cannot protect every job – because some jobs do not make economic sense.
And so it is with housing. Not all properties make financial sense. Not all landlords can run a business and make it economically viable. Not all tenants will pay their rent as they are meant to. And it is unfortunate when people lose their homes through no fault of their own, but people also lose their jobs through no fault of their own.
These situations are miserable, but when an employer cannot make the maths stack to keep people on, the decision must be made to let go. And so it is with landlords, when the sums don’t add up – evictions must be issued. Laying people off is normal, evicting tenants is normal.
The government have introduced artificial delays to the system. The eviction ban, like much of the furlough scheme, has only kicked the can further down the road.
You cannot stop the inevitable.
People will lose jobs; people will lose homes. It’s sad and unfortunate, but unless we understand how buy-to-let works, there won’t just be tenants on the streets, but also landlords.
The Secret Landlord
The Secret Landlord has been renting, refurbishing and selling properties across the UK for almost two decades. Her book, Parasite? The Secret Diary of a Landlord is out now.