Tag Archives: buy-to-let

The Private Rental Sector Is Out of Control And The Solution is Obvious

landlordsFor millions of the UK’s poorest people, the biggest weekly expense by far is the cost of buying someone much richer than them a house.  Almost 4 million people now rent privately and many will live their entire lives without ever knowing what it is like to have a secure home.  The gradual demolition of the social housing sector combined with buy-to-let vultures gobbling up low cost houses will only entrench this monstrous future.

No-one was ever asked whether this is a future anyone wants.  Instead it is presented as inevitable – this is just something the free-market is doing to us that we have no control over.  This is neo-liberal ideology at its most insidious.  The only ones who benefit from the majority of the population living in insecure private rented housing are landlords and property investers.  Therefore no alternative can even be imagined.  It is a done deal and so the rich get richer and our lives get shitter.

This illusion is constantly re-enforced by those who benefit.  Landlords will pull out of the market if tenants are given more rights they shrilly proclaim – as if buy-to-letters are all going to start paying their own mortages for a change.  To back this up new laws are created, such as the ban on squatting in abandoned residential properties.  If this law was removed then landlords leaving thousands of homes empty would almost certainly lead to the kind of squatting movement that was seen both after the second world war and in the 1970s when entire streets were squatted by homeless families.  That is why no major political party opposed the squatting ban, the free-market must be protected with laws as well as lies.

The Labour Party is happy with this consensus.  Ed Milliband talks about flimsy rights for private tenants, but never council houses for everyone that needs one.  That even these wet proposals were met with howls of outrage from landlords reveal a private rented sector that is now out of control.  Buy-to-let landlords even complain that the money they make from rents barely even allows them to make a decent profit, nimbly forgetting that they are not only also being bought a property, but that someone is paying them to live in it and look after it for them.  These parasites seem to think that houses are free, probably because they are if you’re rich and immoral enough to convince a bank to give you a buy-to-let mortgage.

In truth nothing shows up the failure of the free-market run rampant then the private rental sector.  Rents are now so high that the tax payer spends billions each year topping up the rent of even those in work via Housing Benefit. We are paying a fortune to keep landlords rich, whilst thousands still go homeless.  The idea that a competitive market leads to the best for consumers is rendered laughable by the private rental sector.  It is the customer, the tenant,  who has to compete, jumping through endless hoops and shelling out a fortune just to get a roof over their heads.  Landlords don’t increase profits by improving the service they offer, but by failing to carry out repairs, hiking rents and evicting anyone who complains.  On some of the many internet forums devoted to landlords the contempt they hold for their tenants is staggeringly apparent, especially if they happen to rent to people on benefits.  No other business would dare treat their customers this way.

Landlords discriminate at will.  The vile No Blacks No Irish No Dogs of the past has been replaced with No DSS, which in practice means no lone parents, no disabled people, no unemployed people, or put more simply no-one poor.  This is probably illegal, but no-one seems to care how landlords behave.  A survey carried out by the government in 2010 found that almost half of private rental sector housing failed to meet the Decent Homes Standards.  Many did not even meet the very minimum health and safety standards required for housing.  Don’t expect the Government to do anything about this, they believe that ‘peer pressure’ is better than regulation to manage private sector landlords.

From shortly after the second world war up until 1980  millions of council houses were built in England, Scotland and Wales.   The answer to the housing crisis is boringly obvious.  But instead of low cost secure social housing we get offered hugely expensive  ‘affordable rents’ that no-one can afford.  The so-called Living Wage isn’t even enough to pay Affordable Rents in many parts of the UK where they can run as high as several hundred pounds a week.  The situation would be laughable if it wasn’t such a fucking disgrace and didn’t cause such acute suffering.

And yet not one of the politicians who claims to represent us will even consider any alternative to this profit-crazed exploitation of our most basic human need – a safe, secure and genuinely affordable home.  This is hardly surprising.  Around a third of MPs are landlords themselves.  They really are all fucking in it together.

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Nationwide Bans The Poor From Private Renting

no-dssUPDATE: Nationwide have backed down releasing the following statement on their facebook page: 

“The Mortgage Works, a subsidiary of Nationwide Building Society, has removed the exclusion of tenants on benefits and Local Authority tenants from its Buy-to-Let terms and conditions. This follows concerns raised by its customers.

“The clarification of the terms and conditions, which took place last December, brought The Mortgage Works into line with several other Buy-to-Let lenders. This will now be removed.”

In a shocking, and possibly illegal decision, one of Britain’s biggest buy-to-let mortgage lenders is to ban landlords from accepting tenants on Local Housing Allowance.

This nasty little move will mean unemployed, disabled people, many pensioners and people on low wages will be locked out of a large sector of the private rental market.  This comes at a time when homelessness is soaring and the bedroom tax is set to force hundreds of thousands of people out of local authority housing and into the private sector.

Nationwide’s subsidiary, The Mortgage Works, are one of the largest mortgages providers for the buy-to-let vermin who have caused soaring rents and house prices.  The company say:  “Previously, lending to landlords with local authority tenants was not explicitly referenced in TMW’s lending criteria. Our re-issued terms and conditions make it explicit that local authority tenants are not acceptable.”

By local authority tenants they actually mean Housing Benefit tenants.  Many tenants on Housing Benefits are working, however should they lose their job, become disabled or fall ill, then they may now face homelessness as their landlords will have no choice but to evict.

In truth it is none of a landlord’s fucking business, or his banks, whether tenants are on benefits or not and there is no requirement to tell them.  This will sadly be of cold comfort to many tenants however, who all too often live in fear of eviction on the whims of the landlord.  Most tenants can be thrown out of their home for any reason or none with just two months notice.

Nationwide’s decision comes on the back of savage cuts to Housing Benefits which have already made much of the South East of England unaffordable for people on low incomes.  The growing homelessness epidemic in the South is soon to be matched by mass homelessness in Northern England, Scotland and Wales as the bedroom tax begins to bite.

On top of this will come the drip drip effect of George Osborne’s decision to cap annual Housing Benefit rises at 1%, despite a soaring rental market.  And in April this year the benefit cap begin to kick in which will force thousands of people out of London or onto the streets.

Already the cuts have led to local councils placing homeless families in hotels which can cost almost £3000 a week.  People’s lives are being torn apart and the Housing Benefit bill is still rising.

No DSS has long been a common sign on the windows of letting agents.  Some landlords say they will not even take working tenants on DLA, effectively banning disabled people from their housing.  This, along with punitive deposits, credit and reference checks, mean accessing private sector housing is more difficult than ever before for those on low incomes.

At present people with resident children, or those disabled or unwell enough to convince their council they are officially ‘vulnerable’, are legally able to gain some help should they become homeless.  Increasingly that means B&Bs as the number of people presenting as homeless rockets.

Yet landlords, mortgage lenders and property speculators are making millions as they exploit the soaring demand for housing.  In many parts of the UK, even a so called ‘living wage’ is not enough to pay the rent.  If Nationwide’s greedy demand is repeated by other lenders and landlords then it will mean disabled, sick, unemployed or low waged workers are effectively barred from housing in the UK.  You can tell the recession profiteers what you think of that on twitter @AskNationwide or at: http://www.facebook.com/NationwideBuildingSociety

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid