by | Mar 11, 2022 | Safer Renting

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I filled up the car from almost empty the other day. It cost me £91 where it used to cost £72. I shop daily in Sainsbury and used to spend around £25, now it averages at £35.

We are reading much of the dramatic rise in fuel bills. Both me and my wife work from home which we share with her elderly mum, who just plan “Doesn’t do cold”!, so we await the bill of doom for the winter quarter.

And everyone is in the same boat and many a lot worse off. At least both of us working.

Meanwhile landlords are all celebrating the latest data, revealing that rent levels have now exceeded pre pandemic levels, the website for Ellis and co having predictions for 2022:-

“This is expected to further increase rent prices across the UK thanks to fluctuating movement patterns and remote working”.

“Rent prices increasing THANKS TO????” Interesting position there.

Also in the same article:-

“The market conditions are set to be favourable with rental prices rising and demand in urban areas increasing”.

Well I’m glad they are happy. Renters are being driven into poverty and fear but things are looking good for landlord’s this year.

The Mayor of London has a campaign calling for powers to impose rent control in the capital. I don’t think he will get them and to be honest I would be nervous if this happened. Whilst I am more than happy for Sadiq Khan to have those powers I shudder to think of mayors who might replace him in the future and what they might do with it, remembering past campaigns by the likes of Zac Goldsmith and what he promised.

I listened to BBC Radio 4 Money Box Live this week, where Shelter’s Ruth Ehrlic and the NRLA’s Chris Norris gave their views. The subject of rent control was raised by a caller from ACORN in Bristol, to which Mr Norris replied by acknowledging that he understood that people were angry and were calling for rent control but said it was expensive being a landlord and higher rents mean they can spend more maintaining the property for the tenants.

Landlords seem intent on raising rents regardless of the problems of their fellow citizens, effects of a 2 year pandemic and the rising cost of living which may or may not be a result of Brexit (I’m no expert on that topic) Warnings are already coming in of the fallout of the whole Ukraine business, where sanctions will blow back onto us here in the UK, which personally I am more than happy to endure if it helps out.

Although the ever irritating Martin Lewis correctly and responsibly reminded us this week:-

“I am slightly worried that what we may be seeing is a deliberate narrative shift that effectively says the entire cost of living crisis is due to Ukraine and therefore we all need to make sacrifices and that is not correct. The rises in energy, heating, oil, water, council tax, broadband and mobiles, food, national insurance were all in place before Ukraine”

Hear-hear Martin. Important not to forget that, just as it is also important not to forget that “Favourable rent prices rising” we see above, also adds to this burden, that was going on before Ukraine and presumably will continue despite Ukraine, because as Mr Norris says, It’s expensive being a landlord”.

Believe it or not, as an organisation, Safer Renting don’t actually have an official position on rent control. As individuals we are to a man and woman in favour but we don’t all agree on methodology or possible side effects. As a group we strive to be pragmatic.

But I wonder where 2022 will take the rental market. If the landlord industry are jumping up and down for joy, regardless of the miseries being endured by millions of their tenants, what will they do when a renter has to make a decision, probably arrived at after weeks of sleepless nights and family tension, whether to feed their kids or pay the rent?.

As Mr Norris said again on Money Box live, NRLA data shows that most of their members buy rental properties as a pension pot and weren’t the millionaires people take them to be but I think a clue to the very near future is in those 2 perceptions.

When coming to that terrifying decision over rent v. food/fuel, a beleaguered family will justify their decision based on perceptions of landlords as being minted and that the reduction in food they are experiencing is going to pay the landlord’s pension, which is going to come second when considering how to feed their kids.

Celebrating rising rents and a “Buoyant rental market” in these current times is not winning landlords any friends.

And when the rent arrears start piling up as a result of landlords refusing to slacken off of rent increases, coupled with the impending financial dystopia, they will presumably be evicting willy-nilly, pushing the cost onto society in the form of homelessness assistance.

Where will replacements come from? Another landlord on Money Box live talked of trying to rent out a studio flat and having 80 viewings, most of whom failed because they couldn’t afford the rent on their income.

Landlords could potentially find rent controls imposed precisely because of their resistance against it. History of the past 100 years shows that in most instances, rent controls were imposed at times of national crisis and at those times, the concerns of landlords and their financial business model didn’t even come into it.

Up to 4 years ago, if you mentioned abolishing s21 you were laughed out of the chat room as deluded loon but now, like the Emperor’s new clothes, most see it for the appallingly immoral legal machinery it always was.

Resistance to rent control could well be the next Shibboleth that gets dismantled

   By Ben Reeve Lewis

Back to the Safer Renting Blog.

About Cambridge House Safer Renting

The Cambridge House Safer Renting team present the ‘go-to’ blog on the world of the Shadow Private Rented Sector.

We monitor the world of rogue landlord and agent activity, publicise developments, circulate innovative ideas, keep readers abreast of changes in laws and regulations, raising awareness of criminal trends and scams, celebrate successful actions and interview people working in the field, connecting up anyone involved, from tenants and their advisers, to enforcement officers, lawyers and journalists.

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