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articles > Christinas Rant!
Article> Christina’s Rant - A letter to an MP

Article kindly supplied by Christina Hine,
Founder, Good Find Properties

Please bear with me whilst I get some things ‘off my chest’ and don’t worry it is not just one long ‘rant’; I promise there is some useful information here!

Firstly, please let me introduce myself. My name is Christina Hine and I am a Professional Property Investor. I am the Founder of Good Find Properties and have been involved in developing properties as well as investing in multi-lets and single lets. I gave up a well-paid job in the city to pursue my passion for property investing on a full-time basis, and despite a few ‘set-backs’ along the way I have never looked back. However, let the Rant begin …

Below is the outline of an email I sent to my local Conservative MP (Mark Prisk) and, yes I did use most of this inflammatory wording. As promised I have printed his reply at the end:

 

… increasingly I have begun to feel discriminated against, stigmatised, penalised and categorized as a potential criminal just for being a Landlord. I feel that I am being “judged” as a bad Landlord and a criminal until I can prove differently. Obviously, you would want to know why I (and probably quite a few other Landlords) feel this way, and I will try to explain below.

Since I started investing in 2003 there has been a steady and increasing stream of regulations regarding Landlords, some of which I list below (my comments are in bold):

• Selective Licensing of Private Landlords (Housing Act 2004) – Revenue Collection Scheme

• Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) (Housing Act 2004) - Revenue Collection Scheme

• Tenancy Deposit Schemes (6 April 2007) – Heavily biased towards the tenants

• Energy Performance Certificates (6 January 2006) – Expensive waste of time!

• Paying Housing Benefit direct to Tenants instead of Landlord or Agent (7 April 2008) – Total madness!

I cannot even begin to tell you of the problems I have had with Councils on Selective Licensing, HMOs, Deposits and Housing Benefits, but I will try to outline quickly.

Selective Licensing Example:
One sunny Saturday morning, out of the blue, I received a large package of documents from Manchester Council. There was a very aggressive letter from Manchester Council accusing me of operating an “Unlicensed Property” on a ‘high-end,’ luxury, new-build apartment I own in Manchester. I was being fined £150 late fee plus £425 License Fee and a Criminal Check Fee. Basically, this was the most threatening, aggressive letter I have ever received in my life. I had absolutely no idea that this was a Selective Licensing area, no previous notification had been made. It did not show up in the Searches my Solicitor undertook and my Manchester-based Letting Agents had no knowledge of this Licensing, and yet I am subjected to a demanding, aggressive letter like this. Oh, and the paperwork was so demanding, it took me 3 weeks to gather all the information and fill out the 3 massive forms. Wasted time, when I should have been finding deals and making money!

HMO Example:
When I purchased a house in Hertfordshire that I wished to convert to a HMO, I of course, applied for a License and tried to comply with East Herts Council’s various conflicting rules. I phoned for clarification when I needed it and did everything they asked of me, spending approximately £30k on the refurb and upgrading, only to be told AFTER the refurb that I needed to comply with more regulations that they said I did not need to at the beginning. I then find out that I am one of the few Landlord’s in this area that has actually applied and paid for a License and that they are not planning on contacting any of the other Landlords, only the ones that apply (i.e. only ‘law-abiding soft targets’).

Deposit Example:
On deposits, I lodge mine with the DPS and on one occasion had to claim against it. The deposit was for £350 and the tenants had done over £1,500 worth of damage. Despite the extensive photographic proof, receipts and detailed inventory by an independent inventory checker. The DPS saw fit to only return (approx. £150) of my deposit – this process took approximately 6 months. It is clearly, very heavily biased towards to the tenants.

Paying Housing Benefit Direct to Tenants Example:
On the madness that is paying Housing Benefit directly to Tenants. Why? In my experience the tenants do not want this. I have a claim in Burnley, where the tenant is an alcoholic and has all sorts of other problems. He owes me over a £1,000 in rent so far. He does not have a bank account and because he told them he left the property, when he had not they stopped payments. Now they will start again, but it is a new claim so they are going to pay him direct, despite the fact that there is the very real possibility that he will have enough money with their cheque to drink himself to death! They will pay the money direct to me if he produces a Doctor’s letter, but he does not have the money or inclination to pay for this and I am spending so much time trying to get him to obtain this letter and he may never do this. This is all quite mad.

National Register for all Private Landlords:
And then as if all of this is not bad enough, I find out that the Government are planning to make it a law that every Private Landlord in England will have to sign up to a national register before they can let their properties to tenants. Hey and guess what they will have to pay a fee every year for this privilege!! Why doesn’t the Government just brand the numbers “666” into our foreheads?

Really this is just a step too far. I am not breaking any laws; my tenants thank me for providing lovely homes for them. One of my tenants today kissed me on both cheeks for sorting out a lock problem and taking her flowers for her inconvenience. Why then do I have to have criminal checks just for being a Landlord?

I have heard that Ministers want data for this Register to include the home address of the Landlord and the addresses of all rental properties owned. I imagine that would be very handy for the criminals wishing to steal identities! I also read that Landlords could be removed from the Register and lose their properties if there were a large number of complaints about them or they failed to company with the rules. Does the Government plan to CPO properties when there are complaints or just plain steal them? Then there are the plans to set up a scheme allowing tenants to register official complaints about sub-standard Landlords, what about the sub-standard, criminal tenants? You might as well put all Landlords in stocks and allow everyone to throw fruit at them. It is clear that there are as many unscrupulous Tenants as there are Landlords and yet the continuous barrage of legislation seems only to penalise the Landlord.

Has the Government thought about how many “good quality” homes the private rented sector provides? History has shown with the 1977 Rent Act what happens when over-regulation occurs: it more or less wiped out the rented sector.

Below are my specific questions to Mark Prisk MP:
However, my question to you is – when you get into Government, will a Conservative Government continue with this persecution of Private Landlords? In particular, will you be reversing the idiotic payment of Housing Benefits directly to tenants? Will you go ahead and stigmatise Landlords further by making them sign a Landlord’s Register – is that not what Sex Offenders have to do ‘sign a register’?

Reply from Mark Prisk MP:

“You are quite right to highlight the huge stream of regulations affecting landlords. There seems to be an assumption in the Labour Party that if you are a Landlord you are deliberately on the fiddle and trying to exploit others. It is quite wrong.

I am pleased to say that several of the Regulations you have mentioned, not least the way in which Home Information Packs and Energy Performance Certificates have been introduced are issues we are fully aware of and intend to streamline. More broadly, the way in which Regulation has been brought forward under the current Government has been to compound problems rather then to solve them. It is why we will insist that where a department brings forward a new Regulation, that department shows how it will reduce the overall burden of regulation it imposes on businesses by 5%. The aim of this is to make Government understand that it is the accumulative burden of regulation on the shoulders of business that hurts, not the individual measure. Once Whitehall has to consider the accumulative burden, we will start to change the incentives within Government to regulate first. It is also why we intend to review every regulator so that we are able to scrap or merge many with a result that there would be, at the end of the next parliament, fewer regulators which are smaller in scope and which cost less to comply with.

You might also be interested to read our housing paper produced by Grant Shapps MP, which sets out some of our approaches in this important area, which can be found at http://www.conservatives.com/Policy/Where_we_stand/Housing.aspx “

 


It’s me, Christina, back again! Did you notice that Mark Prisk did not specifically answer any of my questions? Especially these ones … “Does the Government plan to CPO properties when there are complaints or just plain steal them? Then there are the plans to set up a scheme allowing tenants to register official complaints about sub-standard Landlords, what about the sub-standard, criminal tenants?”

I suppose I should not be surprised that the answer was a bit evasive, as I did promise to print the reply.

On a lighter note, I hope you found this article amusing and maybe a little helpful.

News Flash – Good Find Properties are about to launch their New Property Dressing Service for Landlords. All rooms styled and re-stocked ready for the next tenant. Fast turnarounds, quality supplies and efficient service. Cleaning services and trades can also be organised.
For more details, go to www.goodfindproperties.com Please note that this website is still in its infancy (I have a lot more to add to it), but wanted to give you a ‘taste’ of things to come!

Until my next ‘Rant’, I wish you all trouble-free investing.

Best wishes,
Christina Hine

Founder, Good Find Properties
www.goodfindproperties.com


 
 

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