‘There won’t be any small landlords left by next year’
Bethany Jameson*, 58, owns two buy-to-lets in London, but now plans to sell them both in the wake of the Government’s plans to give tenants rights to keep pets.
She said: “I’m appalled at the Government’s constant interference in the private rented sector. Landlords own the properties, not the Government. We have paid for these properties and they are our pension. It is a big assault on our property rights.
“I have many allergies and my husband is allergic to dogs, in no circumstance can we allow tenants with pets. We wouldn’t be able to enter the house to do any checks.”
Mess and damage are further concerns. The pet requirement will be particularly problematic for Mrs Jameson because she owns a house share in which bedrooms are let on an individual basis. She is worried that taking on someone with a pet will cause her other tenants to leave and lead to lost rent and void periods.
“The Government is opening up a minefield,” she said.
Discussions around requirements for tenants to take out pet insurance are a “pie in the sky idea”, said Mrs Jameson. It is unlikely that insurers will cover lost rent while landlords have to make repairs, she said.
David Carter*, 60, who has a portfolio of 13 properties in the South West, said the Government’s plans will backfire because they mean he will no longer let properties to renters on benefits if he cannot easily evict them.
Mr Carter has a long track record of letting to low income renters. He offers leases at the local housing allowance rates and in the past has run a house share as a “dry house” for recovering addicts. But losing “no-fault” evictions means he will have to stop, he said.
The white paper says that landlords’ possession rights will be strengthened in cases of serious arrears and when a landlord wants to sell a property. But landlords are concerned that the eviction process will be more difficult if they need to prove wrongdoing such as anti-social behaviour.
Mr Carter said: “I cannot take risks on tenants without the safety net of Section 21 and being able to get repossession without having to explain. This matters particularly because interest rates are going up.” If he has problems with several tenants and cannot replace them, he would risk being unable to afford his mortgage payments on his other properties.
The Government’s ban on discrimination against tenants on benefits will mean little in practice for two reasons, said Mr Carter. Landlords will be able to refuse them easily because they will not pass credit checks. Crucially, because local housing allowance rates have been frozen and are out of kilter with market rents, benefits tenants will also be unable to afford the rates, he said.
Ben Beadle, of trade body the National Residential Landlords Association, said the Government must release more details to retain landlord confidence.
He said: “A failure to do so will exacerbate the housing crisis at a time when renters are struggling to find the homes they need. The eventual legislation needs to recognise that government actions have led to a shortage of supply in the sector at a time of record demand. It is causing landlords to leave the sector and driving up rents when people can least afford it.”
A Government spokesman said: “We make no apologies for improving standards for renters across the country and cracking down on the minority of landlords who don’t provide safe and decent homes to live in.
“Good landlords will already be meeting these standards, but it is only right that greater powers are introduced to protect tenants from rogue practices. We’re abolishing no-fault evictions – but we’re also giving landlords stronger safeguards against anti-social behaviour.”