>Landlords - Taxation is No...
Let's face it, next to estate agents the least liked set of people in the public view are  Landlords. Unfortunately, its a case of a few tarnishing the name and reputation of the many. We have the pleasure and privilege to represent a large number of Landlords who care about their properties and care about their tenants. The recent changes to the laws on how landlords and buy to let properties are taxed should not be confused with better regulation of the industry and we should not make the mistake of thinking that recent changes deliver any sort of value to the end user- the tenant. Landlord & tenant law, has changed over the years to increasingly give the tenants more leverage and influence over the relationship. The recent changes to legislation mean that retaliatory section 21 notices (the use of a section 21 by the landlord in order to rid himself of a problematic tenant or out of spite) has gone the way of the dodo, and measures have been put in place to see that repairs and maintenance are dealt with properly. At the heart of this debate are three issues:- 1) Value received by the tenant in terms of service and standard of accommodation. 2) The UK's long standing wish to bring more regulation to the lettings industry and 3) Local authorities trying to reduce their exposure and number of "council houses". Value We all like receiving value for money. The best is when we receive value when we least expect it. I had a landlord that would regularly appear on my doorstep with a bag of bagels or a bottle of wine when it was a special occasion. Once when a tenant casually remarked that their TV was broken, he appeared an hour later with a brand new flat screen TV. Now this landlord is a rarity, he was not under any obligation to do any of those things but he understood that delivering real and unexpected value meant his tenant was likely to stay longer and feel more at home. Not all landlords are like this, but there is a basic element of value that needs to be included in any landlord tenant relationship. The standard of accommodation needs to represent value for money and the speed with which issues are dealt with should be reasonable. Regulation The property market and estate agency is largely unregulated. There are watchdogs and ombudsmen but the fact remains that most private  landlords are not required to be members of any particular scheme nor are they required to abide by a code of practice. The UK pundits have been crying out for further regulation in a bid to stamp out "rogue" landlords and agents that fail to meet a minimum acceptable standard. The licencing of Landlords is a hot topic with trials being rolled out, but licencing of Landlords in itself is not the answer as all it achieves is a very expensive register of Landlords that is not particularly well policed. The changes to the serving of section 21 notices seems like a step in the right direction but again it seems to give the tenant a disproportionate amount of power in the relationship. It does not allow for difficult tenants abusing this new change and ultimately could lead to a greater amount of arrears mounting up across the sector. Repairs do need to be carried out in a timely manner but there also needs to be a distinction between genuine repairs and maintenance and spurious items. Regulation may be welcomed, however the playing field needs to be more even and there needs to be greater consultation with both sides. Conferring with ARLA or the RICS which do not represent the majority of private landlords is not the answer. The government bodies need to engage with its landlord public before bringing in sweeping change without proper consultation. Local authority housing From the Thatcher era to present date the council house has become less prevalent. Councils have tried to lower their cost and exposure by no longer holding such large public housing stock. There are still a great number of people claiming "housing benefit" but for the most part private landlords end up housing these tenants. Councils have effectively assigned their responsibilities and costs to private landlords and there is an unreasonable expectation that the private sector have access to the same resources as public bodies. Therefore maintenance and repairs can sometimes take slightly longer and cash flow comes into the equation for any landlord faced with large bills for repairs. This should be factored in, albeit not at the cost of health and safety but again reasonableness in this regard is hard to come across these days. Taxation is not regulation George Osborne has played a clever game. Introducing punitive measures of taxation on a community of private landlords is an easy win. From the public perspective there will be no huge outcry as landlords are not universally liked nor is there any room for pity. There won't be any tears shed in the press about poor Landlords and there won't be any Labour opposition outcry like there was when Osborne considered changing the benefit levels. Simply put Landlords are an easy target. But will this achieve what they want it to achieve? Maybe the change in stamp duty for landlords and the handling of mortgage interest will effectively fill up the coffers of the treasury but what's the knock on effect?b Unfortunately, it will be the tenant that feels the effect the most. Rents are likely to rise to reflect the additional costs that landlords have, and the money that landlords might have invested in their properties will decrease which may mean that the standard of accommodation becomes more basic and represents less VALUE for the tenant. Landlords all over the country have clubbed together to raise the legal funds needed to challenge the government's targeting of their sector and whilst the public might not shed a tear for them, they also have to realise that the bottom line is a hike in rent and a degradation of living standard. Nobody benefits from this and nobody on either side of the debate wants this. Whatever your view, we are happy to say that our landlords represent the cream of the crop, they are diligent and care about their tenants. We help them to deliver value to their tenants with a management service that is robust and efficient. We'd love to do the same for you. For a management service that is second to none call Normie & Company on 01617737715 today.