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Ministers have ‘needlessly spooked’ landlords with renting reform plans

A leading buy-to-let mortgage broker has said the Government has ‘needlessly spooked’ landlords with its rhetoric designed to ‘curry favour with tenants’.

The comments have been made by Gavin Richardson, MD of Mortgages for Business, who says the Government’s plans to reform evictions including abolishing Section 21 notices are not the huge threat that many think it will be.

He was responding to reports in the Financial Times that a group of Conservative MPs including several within the Government whips office, have been calling for the Renters (Reform) Bill to be watered down.

“I want to reassure the whips that we don’t think the reforms will prove to be that bad for landlords,” says Richardson.

“First, sensible landlords — even those working in the Conservative whips’ office — rarely turf out good tenants who pay their rent as they want them to stick around.

“So this reform will disproportionately hit the minority of bad landlords who have abused Section 21 notices, rather than the reputable end of the market.

“Second, tenancies can still be ended if there has been a breach of the tenancy by the tenant.  And the government has said it will introduce a new ombudsman to settle disputes between tenants and landlords without the need to go to court.

“The government has also promised to digitise the courts’ agenda ahead of these reforms to ensure a swift resolution to these cases. That will speed up processes where possession cases require them.

But this is somewhat optimistic given recent complaints from both eviction experts and the Law Society that court delays are getting worse, not better, for landlords.

Real danger

Richardson continues: “Third, the whips will always be able to end a tenancy if they plan to move back in or sell it — that was the real danger of this reform, anything that inadvertently risked landlords’ ability to realise the value of their housing assets through disposal.”

“The loss of full tax relief on mortgage interest payments for individual landlords, and the stamp duty surcharge on additional property purchases were far more significant for landlords.”

Nearly 90 MPs of all political hues are landlords who collectively operate some 167 rental properties each providing £10,000 or more in rental income – the threshold at which such income must be declared as a ‘member’s interests’ filing.


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