Thursday, 13 March 2014

Shelter needs to end campaign against landlords

Statistics published by Shelter on tenant evictions are failing to provide an accurate picture of the situation in the private rented sector according to the country’s leading landlord organisation.

The data, published jointly between Shelter and British Gas suggest that over the last year, 200,000 tenants in the private rented sector have “faced eviction” because they asked their landlord to fix a problem in their home. However Shelter has ignored the inconvenient truths.

Based on Shelter’s data, which indicates that there are  9 million tenants in the private rented sector in England, 200,00 is  only a little over 2 per cent of all tenants, meaning almost 98 per cent have not faced the problems Shelter and British Gas warn of. It should also be noted that these figures refer only to tenants facing evictions and not actual evictions.

Official figures published by the Ministry of Justice in February show that in 2013, the total for all tenants – in both public and private housing – having their homes repossessed by the courts amounted to 37,739 homes. This combined figure equates to only 0.5 per cent of all rented homes in England. Shelter admit to scaling up the figures from their research.

Shelter also fails to explain how many of the tenants were failing to pay their rent on time and how many of the “evictions” were as a result of tenancies coming to a close. In this instance, many landlords may have sought possession of their properties in order to embark on refurbishments. It is also noticeable that Shelter fails to indicate how many tenant evictions are as a result of anti-social behaviour.

Figures from the English Housing Survey show also that the proportion of tenants satisfied with their properties are higher in the private rented than the social sector. 83 per cent of tenants in private rented homes are satisfied with their accommodation compared to 81 per cent in the social sector.

Responding to the report, Alan Ward, Chairman of the Residential Landlords’ Association said:

“Shelter are once again needlessly playing to people’s fears.

“Whilst the RLA accepts that there are landlords who should be rooted out of the sector, the fact that almost 98 per cent of tenants have not faced the problems should be a sober reminder to Shelter that the majority of tenants face no problems whatsoever with their landlord.

“The best response to the problems that Shelter identifies is to encourage more good landlords into the sector in order to boost the supply of homes to rent and to provide tenants with genuine choices over where they live. Shelter’s continued vilification of landlords will serve only to put the good landlords off further investment in the sector and push tenants into the hands of those operating under the radar.” 

In a report on regulation in the sector due to be published shortly, Professor Michael Ball of Reading University finds that:

“Private landlords felt frustrated that they are always treated as potential devils, while social landlords are always seen in official eyes and political rhetoric as angels. In contrast to such publicly aired views, it was pointed out that surveys of tenant satisfaction actually show better results for the private sector. Nor is the social housing stock consistently in tip-top condition.”

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