The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has accused the Government of declaring war on individual landlords and described 2015 as an “annus horribilis” for the residential landlord.
In a New Year message RLA policy director David Smith said the association met with dozens of MPs last year, responded to numerous Government consultations and lobbied on issues from Right to Rent to Flood Re exclusion.
Just over a third (36%) of members’ subscription goes into the RLA’s annual fighting fund of more than £600,000 that runs the association’s campaigns team. The balance of the funding runs the RLA helpline, develops training, creates documents, produces the magazine and helps run and update the website.
“As it says on the RLA website, we provide national support for landlords: not working on a single topic like mortgage interest relief, but all those issues – national and local – likely to affect the way we run our renting businesses,” said Smith, “By attacking the private rented sector chancellor George Osborne is attacking the very people who are providing homes for those who cannot afford to buy and those for whom councils cannot find a home. He is attacking those of us who help social landlords when they can’t cope with demand and even those who have opened their doors to cope with the scores of people rendered homeless by the recent floods.”
Smith said Osborne had effectively declared war on individual landlords and that it would appear the PRS has become little more than a cash cow for the Treasury.
On top of the upcoming changes to income tax and stamp duty, February brings the launch of Right to Rent checks for landlords to control illegal immigration.
“In Wales it’s all change too. If you thought that a Labour government was a safe haven for landlords then Wales proves otherwise,” said Smith, “A new landlord registration and licensing scheme will prove to be a bureaucratic bowl of spaghetti that will cost good landlords and their tenants and encourage landlords to leave the sector whilst the foundations have been laid that will make the sectors fundamentally different between England and Wales.”
Smith said the RLA spent 2015 fighting to protect landlords from proposed legislation to abolish section 21 notices, agency fees and rent controls.
“On all of these issues and many more your RLA is leading the way. Don’t expect a government U-turn on any of these issues – politics doesn’t work like that,” said Smith, “Discussion, argument, negotiation, amendment are the processes which in the end produce reasonable agreement.”
Smith warned the changes George Osborne proposes will have knock-on effects throughout society, with social housing and build-to-rents projects first to be hit – with the prospect of falling supply and rising rents looming for tenants.
“We need to be clear. There is and will continue to be a PRS. There are challenges ahead and there is no doubt that as landlords you need to look long and hard at what is best for your business,” he concluded.