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Corporations are better than buy to let landlords, says Big Issue writer

A contributor to the Big Issue magazine says corporations that become landlords may be better at it - and better for tenants - than typical buy to let investors.

Jonn Elledge, who regularly contributes to the Big Issue and to the left-wing political weekly New Statesman, says many tenants might feel that a corporation would be a less sympathetic entity than a buy to let landlord who has one or two investment properties.

However, he dismisses the value that amateur buy to let landlords bring to the rental market and suggests that corporations are likely to be better resourced to handle repairs, will have brand reputations to bear in mind, and will be more capable of handling frequently-changing regulation and legislation 


“A private rental sector with a bigger corporate presence is likely to be a much more professionalised private rental sector, in which landlords understand that tenants are a customer and providing for them is a job – as opposed to the status quo, in which some landlords seem to think tenants should be grateful for the opportunity to rent from them” says Elledge.



The article does not mention the Build To Rent sector by name, but the writer makes several favourable references to John Lewis, the retail organisation which says it wants to diversify into BTR in a bid to ease its reliance on shopping-related income. 

According to the Build To Rent specialist management firm Ascend Properties, BTR currently accounts for 53,750 homes within the private rental sector - that's a 135 per cent rise over the past four years but still constituting only around one per cent of the overall UK private rental sector. 

You can see the full Big Issue article here.

*This article was amended on March 29 2021. 

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    John Elledge does a huge disservice to the many honest, hardworking LLs in the PRS who provide decent housing to tenants. Not everyone wants to live in a tower block with a faceless LL and most tenants have a good relationship with their LL.

    There is not a one size fits all for renters and small LLs are an important part of the choice for tenants.

    Although there are some rogue private LLs out there, the existing corporate LLs (LAs & HAs) are not without their faults and without the smaller LLs many tenants would struggle to find a home at all!


    I completely agree with Tricia on this. Try renting an apartment from some corporation like KennedyWilson for instance. They charge a premium for the apartments they have. In Dublin They bought cheap in the recession, got a tax break and evicted all the tenants who could not afford the uplift in rent. All of John's article is littered with conjecture, evidenced by "unlikely", "many tenants might feel ", "bigger corporate presence is likely to be a much more professionalised private rental sector".
    try getting hold of a corporate landlord on a weekend and leave a message on an answering machine while your boiler has broken down!
    I have let properties in west london for the past 30 years and have no complaints.
    most landlords are decent and it takes two to tango.

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    BTL boomers can afford the boiler and do replace them, if the performance of councils and housing assocs are anything to go by BTL boomers get the jobs done quicker, but if these corporations want the Big Issue sellers and readers as tenants then they are welcome to them, and good luck with getting the rent paid


    I usually respond to any issue straight away or the next day and my plumber is often there within the hour.
    This bloke is talking through his a**e.
    Most of the problems down here with damp homes are attributable to Housing Associations' inaction.

  • Tony Egan

    Hilarious! The whole article is purely speculative, full of 'ifs, buts and maybes' and bears no resemblance to the real world.
    Perhaps the writer could actually do some real life research and talk to happy, satisfied tenants and landlords, the landlords and tenants who have relationships and feelings for each other as human beings.
    The area I live in has a few corporate landlords now, without exception the rent costs are higher.
    So, good luck when the PRS has diminished through onerous taxes, legislation and media negativity. Tenants will have no choice but to rent from a corporate. Corporates are businesses who profit to pay their investors, that's how business works.

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    I do not get this everything must be big cr**p because it is just so much better. Try picking up the phone to a big company and spend the usual 40 minutes on hold. Someone someplace always pulls a big salary from it, far more than their worth. Why is it in this country a person trying to make good and run somthing always knocked? I have always admired and always will those that do something not nothing.

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    Typical leftist claptrap

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    This chap needs to take a look at the ITV news that's been running over this week regarding the Croyden Council flats - utterly appalling and would have resulted in immediate action and huge fines if it had been a private landlord. Now ... where's those drain rods ... off to unblock the drains!


    Spot on with that!!

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    I wonder which big property company he has shares in then?

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    This Big issue guy don't know what he is talking about, Private LL'a are nearly always cheaper that Corporate Companies usually with Blocks of Flats and they get discounts for many things when they have a number of Flats incl' HM0's if indeed required. I see in Harrow in recent years a Company with such a Block charging £1700. pm for 2 Bed flats originally designed to be offices with big glass windows, you can see them in bed as you drive by, you might have heard of beds in sheds but not of Beds in Windows. Many 2 Bed Flats in the area are let by Private LL's for £1150. to £1350 pm. We do always fix / replace Boilers and locks straight away at our own cost this allegation is not true. I agree with Big issue the Big Companies have more money / better resourced have all the tax advantages and Government hand outs, hence they want 3 year leases they won't have any short falls Government will look after them. I don't buy Big issue anymore its only rubbish and sellers standing outside Tube Stations in Winter in freezing cold just to given half the money to the fat proprietors. Now we can add Big issue, to the list getting longer every day & also might as well add ITV News if you have seen it lately.

  • Matthew Payne

    All they and the government mean is the big boys are in plain sight 24/7 and as such are easier to manipulate and control, easier to tax. What's easier for HMG and the left-wing lobbyists when managing and influencing a rented sector? It's the difference between having 20 well trained dogs on a tight leash as opposed to trying to herd 2.5 million cats. 20 known, obedient execs on speed dial or 2.5 million individuals who may all have an opinion, many of whom are unknown?

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    There you go as this is how their narrative ends. They always want someone to blame and complain to. They actually want a ‘boss’ to moan to and at the same time make it that everyone aspirational or not has to be handicapped to the lowest level.
    Be careful what you wish for Jonn

    Good luck with living in these new style slums in the sky. Living in a Terrace or semi will eventually be the sought after by these tenants

  • Malcolm Ireland

    I seem now to be spending hours just trying to get through on the phone to deal with Housing Corporations to get leasehold maintenance issues sorted. I have even experimented to see if the Corporation's own tenants would get a better service response by taking the 'I'm a tenant reporting a problem' option on the call-avoidance system, to try their 'favoured party' entry point and get re-routed, but the music is just the same, and the wait is just as long. My 'call centre' is my always-on phone, SMS or email.

    When my tenants have a problem

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    The landlords behind the built-to-rent schemes are hedge funds. Even Lloyds is getting into this business directly now! These guys don't care about their tenants. Yes, the build-to-rent properties are nice, new and shiny now but wait until all competition has disappeared and these shiny new buildings have turned into slums. Forget health and safety, nobody will give a hoot about the tenants then, absolutely nobody. These lefties are digging their own grave!

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    The author of this article has a very One-sided, biased point of view that will only ever apply to a small percentage of tenant who don't pay their rent. ( 84% of tenants are satisfied in the PRS )

    Large Company Landlords - Housing Association etc are not subject to the same level of regulation and scrutiny as Private Landlords ( - have a look at video interview, link on front page of my web site )

  • icon

    Ah it’s nearly 3.00pm means you’ve just got out of bed



    Looks like the late riser's "parasite" post has been removed - along with my reply to him!

  • Jimmy  McNubs

    You seem to have quoted most of his article without a comeback.

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    Oh dear, that's one angry man. I'd love to see him try to level any of his 'observations' at me. Ignore, walk on by...

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    Another parochial attitude toward buy to let LL doing honest business.

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    One sided article and big issue writer should stick to selling big issue.


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