At Last A Peer Champions Private Landlords And Lettings Agents

A senior Tory peer and consumer campaigner has just written an article in strong support and defence of the private rented sector, landlords and their agents.

Baroness Ross Altmann of Tottenham is a well known expert on social care, pensions and later life issues wrote on the Conservative Home website, that although she supports the eviction ban during the pandemic, she acknowledges that it has created as many problems as helping to solving them.

She wrote in an extremely pointed statement: “After so many months, I do wonder whether the Conservatives need to do more to show support for some of the landlords (especially small ones who own only one or two properties).”

She states that the eviction ban has protected anti-social tenants from rightly being kicked out of their properties, as well as praising many landlords who have helped tenants out when asked to, but are now themselves struggling with bills that must be paid.

She wrote that some private landlords invested in the sector to provide them with a pension, and in many cases have reduced or no rental income due to Covid-19, but “must still meet costs such as licensing fees, insurance, and maybe even utility bills for the property.”

Baroness Altmann calls on the government to support a new framework of measures to support hard-pressed landlords and tenants at high risk.

She suggests that:

– The government has to make it crystal clear to tenants they must, wherever possible, keep paying their rent as normal and that landlords should no longer be regarded as wealthy or as large firms, that do not need the rental income.

– The government should introduce a mediation service to provide assistance to landlords and tenants on rental arrears, because of the coronavirus, with agreed repayment plans.

– The court processes have to be made far more effective to reduce the time that normal repossession cases take, otherwise there will be little hope of clearing the backlog; she has even said that online hearings should be introduced.

– If in the near future local lockdowns are introduced then there must be planned strategies put into place; one such plan would be a time limited pause in repossession cases within the affected areas.

Altmann concludes: “The private rented sector plays a vital part in housing the nation. Some seek to paint a picture of tenants and landlords in constant conflict, but in the vast majority of cases they have been working constructively to address the challenges of Covid-19.

“Once the immediate crisis measures are relaxed, the proposals I have outlined here could engender a sustainable balance between the rights of renters and of landlord. But Conservatives also need to bear in mind the political realities, and must avoid causing long-lasting problems for landlords.”

Richard Merrick of PIMS said: “For once the PRS has enjoyed a very positive week with support from the government announcing a Stamp Duty ‘Holiday’, the £2bn Green Energy Fund and now a Tory peer defending landlords and agents.

“This makes a nice change from the usual vilification of private landlords by politicians, whilst living in their ‘gilded’ palaces completely shut off from the real world.”

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