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Marathon complaint letter sent to Gove by angry landlord-agent

A lettings agent with 3,500 properties under management has written a long letter to Housing Secretary Michael Gove complaining about the Renters Reform Bill.

Nik Kyriacou - a landlord himself as well as associate director of Sheldon Bosley Knight in the Midlands - wrote the letter last week but has only just released it to the press.

He tells Gove that he has 16 years experience as an agent working with landlords across Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire.


Here is the rest of his letter:

I am writing to you to urge you to look again at the Renters’ Reform Bill you published on May 17. The Bill has taken four long years to be published, during which time, landlords in the private rental sector (PRS) have been faced with uncertainty and anxiety over what the future holds for them.

Right from the start you said you wanted to create a fairer PRS. However, I believe the Bill as it stands, is a missed opportunity to do so.

Crucially it does nothing to address the chronic shortage of stock across the country which is one of the biggest bugbears in the industry. This imbalance in stock vs demand has been exacerbated by this government falling short on incentivising landlords to remain in the sector – and this Bill does nothing to help that.

One of the most contentious elements is the abolition of Section 21. Although this was widely anticipated, it still represents a headache for landlords who will find it much more difficult – and expensive – to evict tenants who don’t comply with their tenancy agreement.

Although there are other avenues available to evict anti-social tenants via Section 8, it will mean going to court – and extra expense. This in turn will clog up the already overloaded court system and add to landlords’ costs with legal fees. The government will have its work cut out to make this process as streamlined as it needs to be.

The change to the EPC regulations will also add yet more costs for landlords with some estimates suggesting a figure of £10,000 per property to upgrade it to a rating of at least a C. There is still detail yet to come out (for example specific dates, how it affects listed buildings etc), leaving some landlords in limbo and unsure what they need to do and by when. This is unacceptable.

However, the abolition of fixed tenancies is in my view, the biggest kick in the teeth for landlords as it offers no security of income. A landlord could get a set of tenants in, pay the agent’s finder’s fee and then a few months later could find the tenant serves two months’ notice to leave. The landlord will then have to go through the process again, adding more costs to an already fragile bottom line.

All these measures will just add more and more of a financial burden to landlords already struggling and for many their profits have been all but wiped out.

Perhaps you are not aware, but most of the PRS landlords in this country, myself included, are portfolio landlords, ie we have multiple properties and operate them as a business providing a much-needed service in providing a roof over a person’s head. 

Despite this, landlords seem to be treated differently including crucially in respect of not having the same tax benefits and arrangements as other entrepreneurs and sole traders.

Indeed, from 2017, there have been a series of phased taxation changes brought in by the government which have resulted in finance costs no longer being deductible against income on rental properties. Although limited company landlords are afforded some tax breaks, the ability for sole traders to put property into a limited company is financially unviable due to duplicated Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) and Capital Gains Tax (CGT).

While on the subject of tax, I would like to also take this opportunity to highlight the need to turn the additional 3% second home SDLT from a stick to carrot for the motivated landlords who want to continue increasing good quality lettable stock. 

Maybe a possible rebate for second homes with tenancies taken out within the first 12 months?

If you are serious about levelling up the PRS we need you to lobby and endorse these tax changes for landlords and kick start your manifesto pledge to build 300,000 homes a year which would go some way to increase the supply needed to meet the demand. 

This would then allow rents to fall to more manageable levels which would be of huge benefit to tenants. You need to incentivise landlords to stay within the industry and the Bill, along with the tax system, is not conducive to landlords as things stand.

Sadly all this increased taxation, on top of the increased cost of living and rising mortgage rates, have resulted in landlords selling up, which in turn has reduced the available rentals which disadvantages tenants in that they are looking for accommodation which isn’t there.

Buy-to-let is no longer seen as a profitable business to go in to and that’s why new landlords are nervous about investing in it and in turn, that’s why there is a shortage of both landlords and stock. The opposite should be happening.

For those landlords who have managed to stay in the sector, they have had to increase their rents to cover the ever-increasing costs. This has in turn disadvantaged the tenants who are already struggling due to the cost of living crisis.

Despite all this there are, thankfully, a few positives coming from the Bill. These are the promise not to introduce rent controls and the Section 8 possession orders which seem to be fairly robust and allow landlords a quicker route to repossess their properties, if the criteria fits. As ever, detail is still required on this.

I understand as the Bill passes through Parliament there will be amendments and the finer details will come out but as it stands at the moment, I feel as though you are punishing the wrong people which indirectly has consequences in that it will hit tenants. If the balance is not allowed to tip back to a more even keel, I fear many more landlords will simply cash in their chips leading to an even bigger supply and demand crisis.

I am writing to you to ask you to do something positive to help create a fairer private rental sector (PRS). Please meet with me and some of our landlords so we can talk to you face to face about the very real issues faced by our sector and how this Bill will not create the fairer private rental sector you claim to want, but will instead penalise the very people you claim to want to help – the tenants – through higher rents, fewer properties available and a decline in the decent homes standard. Your landlords need you!

Yours sincerely

Nik Kyriacou

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  • icon

    Trouble is, it's nothing Gove and the Dept for levelling up haven't already heard. They're imbeciles and just won't listen.

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    It’s no use writing to The Department of Levelling Down. The lights are on but there’s nobody in.

    They are all ‘working from home’. Doing nothing.

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    This is a government that is putting up interest rates to reduce inflation and therefore evidence they don't understand economics. It hasn't worked and won't work. If anything it's inflationary itself. Though I don't suppose the bankers mind. This inflation is caused by the war and other global events, Brexit not helping either.... Reduce interest rates, get finance costs down, reduce inflation and get the economy growing. This for me is the no. 1 thing they can do to fix the housing market, keep landlords no. 1 direct cost down so making the business viable (despite tax treatment).. And get housing sales market moving. This letter summarises well the misguided reform bill, but the government is out to kill the PRS so is pointless.


    I partly agree with you Peter but disagree on the Governments objectives.
    Most importantly you have missed out quantitive easing. All western banks got it wrong, they were like sheep following each other. USA, Europe and here. Inflation has been caused by this single fact alone and the small businesses, Landlords and middle earners are being squeezed to pay it back as we have no voice and in our masses can easily be manipulated.
    Increased inflation reduces Government debt but also allows more revenue to flow into Government coffers through tax.
    Lastly, the Government want this in order to rake in money, next year is election year and they will then spend spend spend in order to show how successful they have been.
    I just hope the people are savvy enough to realise, however so many will be unaffected due to fixed rates that this may pass by them somewhat. In either case whom would you give your vote to instead....Labour.
    This country has been levelled by self serving Politicians of either party for around the last 20-30 years and I see nothing changing. I will look into the Reform Party and see what they are offering, i've listened to Tim Rice and a lot of what he says appeals to me.
    All I can say is for now mortgaged Landlord's are in the mire, whether now or when their fixed rate finishes. I am hopeful that this will be short lived but interest rates will not come down much in the coming years and with Section 24 profits will be very tight!

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    I agree it’s no use writing to the offender.


    Agree Michael, Gove is stubborn, but he is a survivor and if he feels the tide is turning....... well who knows, slim I know.
    It is a very well written and correctly weighted letter, which he had the good sense to put in the public domain.

    Peter Why Do I Bother

    Well said Andy, I’m glad he put it in public.

    I am sure a few more will.


    Exactly, I know he is also invested here but why do we not have a spokesperson.
    There has been some great comments on this forum, one that sticks in my mind is why are we classed as an investment.
    We are regulated, many, including myself, have been on courses. We need properties licensed etc etc.
    An investor in stocks and shares does not have to go through all these hoops.
    For me I'm now having to make some hard choices, I have 2 very desirable houses in an extremely desirable area. Never thought i'd sell, have long standing tenants whom are OAP's but these properties have hardly been affected by the price decreases and it is super rare for them to come on the market.
    Financially I am being squeezed and due to Section 24 if I do overtime I'll be taxed at almost 50% if you include NI.
    If they want to level up tax hire car companies on turnover, as nobody gets tax incentives on their cars. Supermarkets and restaurants, everyone needs to eat. Of course they won't, but us...wow when does it stop.
    This is real discrimination!

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    All these changes are politically based to try and win votes, begging letters won’t work

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    I thought it was a decent letter, covering most points. Whether it achieves anything remains to be seen but if you don't ask you don't get.

    The one thing I would add is that in order to incentivise new landlords into the industry and existing ones to remain a bit longer there needs to be a clear exit route such as zero CGT after so many years of ownership. It's the way it's done in other countries, so there is no valid reason not to do it here.


    CGT is the nemesis of all taxes and the Gov are going to exploit it in ‘panic mode’ to ‘lock in’ LLs at a time of acute housing shortage.

    They are way too short sighted to see the benefits of reducing it to stimulate housing growth.

    I decided to go expat in 2015 following Osborne’s meddling and very luckily I pay CGT on values at 2015 not from initial purchase which in my case was mostly the early 90’s. It’s a crippling tax which crushes the very purpose of investing in property.


    Jo, great analysis. CGT should be tapered, the longer you own the property the less tax you pay. I believe in Germany after 20 years zero CGT!


    Bring back indexation relief! We would be slaughtered by CGT if we sold our properties now,all purchased in the last century,and as we are getting on a bit,re-slaughtered by IHT at 40% of what is left - as I've said before,one tax or the other,but both is way over the top.

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    Jo. I would agree about the Capital Gains Tax but don’t make much difference to Traditional Landlords’s.
    The Government would make money out of it, its only temporary relief but it would generate many more Sales and SD , VAT etc.
    Currently locked-in with 28% c/gains that can’t happen, ultimately they’ll get the 40% IHT anyway so they are missing all this money they would have had in between.

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    Keep writing letters to them all - your MP, Michael Gove and others. Book appointments at your MPs surgery and go and talk with them politely. It is the only tool we have to convince them and we need to do it before time runs out. We may, as landlords, be ignored but it would be remiss not to try and change this bill before it becomes law. What would be helpful is if some tenant representative organisations would apply some common sense, logic and long term vision into their thought processes and also come out with some good plans to help tenants - in the end it will be the tenants or would be tenants who will suffer with the current bill.


    Nobody can save us now.


    Wholeheartedly agree Ian, you have to try.
    Nick you are more than likely right, but if a wheel comes off they may remember our points quicker than if we don't make them, small comfort I know, but always a chance!


    Andy, I think I will sell and invest the money in thousands of lottery tickets. More chance there...

  • George Dawes

    The government and their masters will own everything and you’ll be happy or else

    Coming to a vr helmet to you soon

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Renters reform is FAR from Levelling or providing ' Balance ' or fairness to both sides.

    You only have to look at Gove'ment DOUBLING the period of rent a Tenant can be in default of 2 months ( from 2, to 4 weeks ) before possession notice can even be served !


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