Stop scapegoating landlords, politicians told
A leading lettings agent has called on politicians to stop scapegoating landlords and to instead “co-operate and collaborate with the industry to tackle the problems we all know need solving”.
In the week Baroness Hayter’s attempts to have letting agents recognised in law as estate agents - making letting agents answerable to an ombudsman and the Office of Fair Trading - were defeated in the House of Lords, Ajay Jagota of KIS Lettings warned that politicians and the rental sector risk becoming weighed down in a war of words when tenants need them to work together to raise standards.
Ajay , whose company manages properties for some 700 landlords across the North East from branches in Sunderland, North Tyneside and South Tyneside said: “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There are problem landlords, but landlords are not the problem.
“It seems at the moment that many politicians see landlords as convenient whipping boys for society’s problems when what tenants really need is teamwork from politicians and the lettings industry, not conflict.
“The best way politicians can help tenants is to stop treating landlords and agents as the problem and to co-operate and collaborate with the industry to tackle the problems we all know need solving.
“Britain is facing something of crisis in housing, but that crisis wasn’t created by landlords, it was created by a lack of affordable housing and a lack of economic growth and squeezed household budgets which has forced vulnerable tenants into the arms of unscrupulous and immoral landlords and lettings agents.
“Soundbites tarring and tarnishing honest and decent landlords and agents with the same brush won’t solve anything.
“This is not to say politicians haven’t made helpful contributions. Baroness Hayter’s suggestions are by and large perfectly reasonable, especially her idea that all landlords have professional indemnity insurance, which is very similar to my own thinking on how our industry can improve itself.
“Ed Milliband too was both correct and helpful when he recently noted publically that the vast majority of landlords and lettings agents are entirely responsible and ethical, but in the same speech, he also hinted he was considering regulating agent’s fees.
“If he goes down that path he needs to work closely with the industry to make sure we don’t see a repeat of what has happened in Scotland where an arbitrary ban on agent’s fees has caused rents to rise sharply.
“Politician’s intentions were noble and pure, but did they result in a better deal for tenants? No. That is why tenants need the landlord-legislator relationship has to be stronger”.