For the second occasion in less time than it takes Katie Price to fall in love, get married, get pregnant and get divorced (not necessarily in that order), I have been compelled to write another blog further to my preceding Friday offering. Whilst tuning into yesterday’s Andrew Marr Show, I almost choked on my cup of tea when Ed Miliband started trumpeting about rent caps. It was said many years ago that Britain was a nation of shop keepers and as Ms Lagarde of the IMF observed last week, we are now a nation that is obsessed with property ownership, in particular, the buy-to-let market. Honk nose himself whilst looking beseechingly to camera (euggggh..) said that he wanted to help those, “trapped in short term often insecure agreements”. For anyone who has had any involvement in the rental market, it is the word ‘insecure’ that jumps straight out to smack one about the chops. I wonder whether Ed has ever tried to remove a tenant from a property for let’s say a minor transgression, such as growing cannabis or assaulting the next door neighbour? Indeed, forget flagrant breaking of the law, how about when the tenancy has come to an end as per the initial contract and the landlord wants his/her house back? ‘Insecure’ is not a word that springs to mind.
He further stated that he would, on grabbing the keys to Number 10, ban estate agents from requiring fees from tenants before they move in. Does this mean that having sourced and purchased a property he would be content for a tenant to move in without any background checks? These checks cost money; funding that is taken from the initial fee that the prospective tenant pays because they are wanting to live in the aforementioned property. A professional letting agency who has the interest of their clients at heart-that is the landlord-work hard to get the best tenants, not necessarily the quickest tenants into the property. This is done through comprehensive background checks, carried out for Cheshire & Co by a professional, fully indemnified outsource company. I assume that EM expects agencies to bear the cost? Professional referencing costs and someone has to pay for it.
Another part of his arms around the world stance was for tenants to have a legal right to know what the previous tenant paid in rent. FFS! Why? And what exactly doe s he hope to achieve by making this statute? Just as in real life, I have no idea whether my wife’s first husband was a….wonderful cook. Even if I did, what good would it do me, our relationship, or the next Sunday roast?
His next ‘Earth calling Ed’ moment was that tenants should have 2 months notice to move. Er, that would be what it is at the moment and of course the landlord should only give notice with “a good reason”. O.K. So the individual who does not in any way, shape or form have any ownership of the property can hold the legal owner to ransom? I (not so) respectfully suggest that Ed does not know his Section 8 or Section 21 from his arse. For those of us who have been to court for a possession hearing on the grounds of the tenants not having paid the rent for three months, trashed the house, terrorised the neighbours or the rather mundane-the legal contract has ended-will know from rueful experience that the listed reasons are often not deemed sufficient by the learned judge.
I accept that letting agents-as in any profession (see, the clue is in the title)-want to earn money from the rental market. Some of us do a good job, some are utter rogues. But from his wide-eyed utterance of yesterday, I have to conclude that Ed and his minions have empirical evidence to show that none of the landlords within in the UK vote Labour, so there is absolutely no problem in upsetting them and that the 4.5 million private tenants must vote Conservative so will automatically jump ship to big-hearted Ed’s team.
Monday morning rant over people. As you were.