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Row over top Tory’s amazing description of private renters

A row has broken out over a statement made by housing minister Rachel Maclean at the Conservative Party Conference.

She told a fringe meeting near the conference venue in Manchester that not all renters are "bad people" who smoke weed or are in gangs.

Maclean went on to tell the meeting - hosted by the Bright Blue think tank and the National Residential Landlords Association - that a lot of people had suggested to her that the Renters Reform Bill was "not Conservative" and that Tory supporters would vote for it.


However, she said all four of her children, who are in their late 20s or 30s, were private renters as well as Conservative voters.

"There are plenty of young people who are in the private rented sector who are not weed-smoking bad people, in gangs and crack dens and everything else and smashing up the neighbourhood," she said.

"There's lots of decent people, hard-working people in the sector and we need to do the right thing for them."

Maclean said there were also "a lot of very good landlords" and she did not want them to "lose confidence" in the market.

"If people are renting a property out they need to be able to get it back if they need to, they need to be able to evict bad tenants so we have taken the time to work through how that would work in practice” she added.

Maclean's comments provoked a backlash on social media from people objecting to what they saw as a caricature or private renters.

Meanwhile the Housing Secretary has told the Conservative Party Conference that a thriving private rented sector is vital to ensuring an effective housing market.

The remarks by Michael Gove were made in response to a question by Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association at a fringe event.

Beadle asked the Secretary of State if he agreed that “a thriving private rented sector where landlords have the confidence to provide decent homes is important for the future of housing provision?”

Gove agreed and went on to explain: “You can’t have an effective housing market, or provision of the homes we need, without having a variety of different types of tenure. A route to homeownership, a private rented sector that facilitates labour mobility among other things, and socially rented homes in order to help people who are, for whatever reason, eligible for, and deserving of, that level of support.”

The Housing Secretary continued: “The overwhelming majority of landlords want a relationship with their tenants where their tenants stay. Easily the best thing is to have a long-term relationship with someone who pays the rent, looks after the property and where there are those ties.”

Alluding to the NRLA’s calls to ensure the cyclical nature of the student housing market can be protected when fixed term tenancies are ended in the Renters (Reform) Bill, Michael Gove told the event that: “Obviously in the rental market you need to take account of movement, particularly amongst students and so on.”

Gove had earlier reiterated that the Renters Reform Bill would receive its second reading before Christmas.

Beadle says in a statement released after the event: “The Housing Secretary is right to acknowledge the importance of a thriving rental market alongside all other tenures. But the only way to achieve this is to develop policies that can secure the confidence of the vast majority of responsible landlords.

“When section 21 repossessions end, landlords need certainty that the courts will more swiftly process possession claims where there is good cause.

“Alongside, this, we need to reform a tax system which is penalising the provision of the very homes renters are struggling to find.” 

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    I suppose it's a step forward that they're recognising different tenant types exist and have different needs. Fixed term tenancies are crucial for seasonal workers and students. Problems only arise when people who want a long-term home apply for the wrong property.

    Now they need to acknowledge landlords aren't all the same and don't all fish in the same pond. Some of us are far more comfortable with long term tenancies than others. I regard my houses as the tools of my trade. My house, their home for as long as they fulfill their side of the tenancy agreement. I regard long staying tenants as my success stories. I fully understand some landlords aren't comfortable with that approach and that's fair enough. We sink huge amounts of our hard earned cash into our properties and should be entitled to run our businesses in the way that works best for us. Whatever approach we have will suit some tenants. We just need to find the right ones.

    The RRB in its original format simply isn't going to work for large numbers of tenants or landlords. Landlords have the option of selling up. What options do tenants have?


    You outlined the position well.


    I'm singing off the same song sheet as you Jo. Long term tenants for me is great. My longest tenant moved in in 2002! Never a problem, very low maintenance and a pleasure to deal with.


    It's great having long term tenants. But they can turn bad when you want them to go. This will increasingly be the case going forward as the population grows and the 'good tenants' find it increasingly harder to find somewhere else.

    Look at the sob stories of people in the press. 'I've lived here for 20 years. Always paid my rent on time. I got a no fault eviction' etc. Removing any tenants will become very hard going forward.

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    I would like to agree but unfortunately cannot it’s all steps backwards and totally unacceptable.
    This is what Government wants get us disagreeing with each other divide and conquer.
    I have and had all sorts on Assured Shorthold Tenancy’s.
    They are on Shorthold not Assured Sitting Tenants not possible or acceptable for Private Landlords who have bought their property outright and pay taxes through the nose all thy way through.
    It’s a different kettle for Landlords who had an easy ride with interest only Mortgage’s and everything allowable, have umpteen properties never had to struggle just minimum Deposits from one to next, yes they could have the option to sell as to never really bought.
    The landlord that bought with repayment loans don’t have the option to sell it’s not an option it’s Confiscation of your acid, for the others it’s Repayment of your debt.
    I have long Term self paying Tenants too but didn’t even know that themselves that in the beginning only wanted it short term, it went from year to year and both Parties were at liberty to end it as per Contracts but didn’t. The Problem now is the Owner being forced to keep them in perpetuity not viable.
    Then on the other hand and it won’t make me popular for saying it either the Benefit Tenants who want to nest in your Property for free forever, their families and the single Parent families now rampant the biggest cause of homeless and shortage given priority over all others, then all I can hear is they want more funding and increased housing allowance as if the money was free and not belong to the tax payers.
    I see families that were on it all their lives now on the third Generation, ever seen girls never had a proper job but went into baby manufacturing then when the youngest turned 18 got pregnant again at 40 to hold on to the free property and Benefits. Those are Certainly long term Tenants and should be left to the Social System that created them not implant them in Privately owned Property that was won by the sweat of the brow.


    Well said. Agree on the divide and conquer. A few nice words. Some landlords saying if it’s not so bad. I don’t mind my tenants having security. They’ve been good so far. Bla bla bla.

    The ability to take back the property is a healthy deterrent that promotes good behaviour. Good tenants will be free to turn bad. A number of those will. As they learn it will get worse.

    These politicians have no stake in our properties but between them and the tenants they expect to control our properties. It’s not acceptable at all.

    It’s all very well saying good landlords should be able to take our properties back when needed. But that won’t happen in practice. It will require going to court. What priority will this have in the court system? LOW! VERY LOW!! Who’s paying the rent while we wait? Not the tenants playing the game. Not these MPs who will inevitably move on shortly…..

    I don’t favour court either.
    Everything is tenant biased. Counterclaims with little or no merit will be allowed to prevent possession.

    Whose properties are these? Ours. We should act like it.

    Social housing is someone else’s business not ours. This is the government dumping their problems on us.


    How does the Housing Secretary know that “The overwhelming majority of landlords want a relationship with their tenants where their tenants stay."

    They haven't listened to a word that landlords say; they ignore every point in every letter that has been sent to them.

    The current system affords flexibility, and, on the whole, worked well until landlords decided to exit the private rental sector in quite large numbers due to the Government policies.

    What is absolutely certain is that the majority of landlords will not want a relationship with their tenants where their tenants stay when the Renters Reform legislation is due to be in force. The majority of landlords want control of their properties. The history of the private rental sector tells us that.


    Michael - you have a point about single parents and bedroom entitlement. It's a real political hot potato and has morphed into a major problem. The whole raising kids out of poverty by bunging ever higher entitlements at single parents actively discourages two parent families as it simply isn't financially viable to have a second adult in the household if UC plays any part in the household income.
    I was a single parent myself for several years and when my primary income was Income Support I certainly had thought processes around optimum times to get pregnant to maintain benefit entitlement. Fortunately back in 1997 the benefit system had Family Income Supplement which meant if you got a job you received a fixed amount of benefit for 6 months. If you worked overtime it didn't affect the benefits. I got a part time job. A few weeks later I got my taxi license. I qualified for a much lower amount of FIS for the second 6 months and have been fully self supporting ever since. Today UC doesn't work like that and it's incredibly hard to escape the benefits world.
    The really staggering fact is that is possible for a single parent to be a higher rate tax payer and still be entitled to UC.

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    Yes Micheal, unfortunately very true. I had a very close relationship with a tenant and knew their grandkids
    Her husband was ill and then developed Hodgkin's lymphoma. I had 20 emails in 25 days demanding a wet room. The council lost my email address, when she applied for a Grant, and really it was too small. She became exceedingly aggressive and refused to let me in the property to carry out repairs etc, but pretended she would and l ended being left on the doorstep, often, with them inside. I had to get unsupervised people to go in and they reported howaggressive she was. We could go on. They them moved to a neighbouring property breaking the contract etc.

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    What about the landlords who do get people who smoke weed and are in gangs. Or other problems?? You leave landlords unable to deal with them. But we are supposed to gloss over that and concentrate on all the good tenants… well good tenants don’t get S21s generally.

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    Whenever you introduce a Court with powers to say NO ! Where before it was simply mandatory…… we will be the losers. 🆘🤷‍♀️


    That seems to have been the case in Scotland since their legislation came into force.


    That’s my worry. It’s not mandatory. If it’s discretionary it will be a no.

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    Tenants groups up in arms about being characterised in a negative way. Funny really, they’re happy to characterise all LLs negatively!


    Yes I agree it's all one sided.

  • Peter Lewis

    After relentlessly hammering Landlords for the past few years, Gove realising that the onslaught against Landlords has caused many to leave the sector and with others planning to either shrink their portfolios or sell up in the next few years. Are we now supposed to believe that he has all of a sudden seen the light? I don’t think so, all he is doing is trying to muddy the waters enough to stop or slow the mass exit that is going on.
    With a general election around the corner and Labour predicted to take over the reins don’t be fooled, they will have a whole host of new outrageous anti Landlord rules and regulations in their back pockets. I’m sorry to say it is time to take stock and make a decision, do you want to be a whipping boy for the Government of the day or turn your back altogether and invest your hard earned money elsewhere?


    Gove says what his audience wants to hear. It doesn't mean he will do anything!

  • David Saunders

    The government, Gove and Maclean can put what spin they like on it but when section 21 is outlawed(no doubt followed by rent controls) a property owner will need their head examined for even considering to let as was in the 1970/80s pre its introduction. Hence looking on the bright side properties to let will become as rare as rocking horse droppings and rents for those available will go into orbit along with homeless figures.

  • Matthew Payne

    I have actually just had my head in my hands at the realisation that we are doomed if this is the level of understanding that ministers have of a market place they are legslating on behalf of. One urgent change needs to be the capabilities and standards of people that run for public office, we have just has a similar problem at District Council level in May, where local residents, who wanting to protest vote have elected an entire Liberal Democrat council of councillors much like those Rachel describes above. Not sure why public office doesnt have same rigours of interview process that every other job does.

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    Try being a landlord in Scotland...
    I've been trying to evict tenants since last year so I can sell... It's just not happening... Well done Scottish Government.... You've reinforced my resolution to sell the whole portfolio.

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    If this comment is meant to be a serious contribution by the housing minister heaven help us. We need more housing to create a competitive market and no governmental interference. A very interesting article in the telegraph yesterday may chart the route we are about to take.
    Read it. The city that declared all-out war on landlords – and what happened next Telegraph 2nd October.


    Yes I read it. Interference in the market always leads to unintended consequences. The only way to bring rents under control is to increase availability.

  • Peter  Roberts

    It matters to me not at all what the government come up with anymore.
    I could see it all coming a couple of years ago or more.
    It was at that point I decided I would never rent another of my properties to new tenants when the original tenants had left. They were then sold.
    I used to sell off one a year for CGT Allowance but that’s gone now.
    From 11 properties now down to 4 and only one of the 7 I sold went to a Landlord. No matter what the Government are saying that the majority of them go to other LLs.
    All of my current tenants are very happy that I don’t try to strangle them with Sky high rents and they look after the properties as if they were there own.
    They don’t want to leave as they know that the costs to move and the extra cost of the rent would be horrendous.
    But back to the government and councils squeezing the life out of the very people that keep the country housed.
    Whatever they try to say, us LLs are leaving in our droves and anything they try to keep us in the game is to little and very much to late.
    Best of luck to the Greedy Councils and Government with the ever increasing amount of families that need rehousing with homes they don’t have to put them in.
    B&Bs and Cheap Hotel Rooms is where they will end up at a massive cost to the Government and Councils.
    They’ve made their beds and now they need to lay in them. Enjoy becoming Landlords. Only this time if you manage to eventually evict the bad tenants you will have to rehouse them again each time.
    Bye Bye BTL It was good but nowadays simply not worth the grief.

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    Thankfully most tenants are decent clean living hard working people, but those she discribe are out there


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