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
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
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
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.
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!
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
Register for all Private Landlords:
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?
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?
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.
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.
are my specific questions to Mark Prisk MP:
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
from Mark Prisk MP:
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?”
suppose I should not be surprised that the answer was
a bit evasive, as I did promise to print the reply.
a lighter note, I hope you found this article amusing
and maybe a little helpful.
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!
my next ‘Rant’, I wish you all trouble-free
Good Find Properties