Manx Independent letters, May 9, 2013

Have your say

The woes of landlords

Open letter to Social Care Minister Chris Robertshaw MHK:

I have been a landlord for six years. In brief, two out of four tenants did a lot of damage to my one-bedroom flat, finally leaving, owing me £300 in unpaid rent and a £160 gas bill, plus a sitting tenant that had taken up residence being a friend of the original tenant and without my knowledge or permission.

This person was in receipt of DHSS (sic) payment which only covered 50 per cent of the rental fee. This went on for two months. It would have cost me £2,000 in legal fees to evict him. He ran up a gas bill, which he did not pay and the gas company turned off the gas supply. He left as winter came and he was too cold without heating.

I now have a tenant who is in receipt of DHSS payment. He was picked up by the Salvation Army; he had been living in a field last winter. He is not the best nor yet the worse of tenants. He has been with me for 14 months to date and is trying to make his way in life. He has been unable to get a job.

He is so short of money that my wife and I sometimes feed him. He is now worried that because of this proposed bill I will not register, and he will have to move out even though he is very happy there.

I rent the flat to supplement my UK state pension of £140 per week, but once the rental income ends I will need to claim benefit top up and to make ends meet as we have no other income. As I have stated, I have and do take DHSS tenants which a lot of landlords will not, but I should be the one who decides if I want to or not.

We have invested in the flat, fitting double glazing in parts, while maintaining good decorative order with carpets and furniture to match.

Government legislation of this sort is ill thought-out and becomes a bureaucratic nightmare, being unfit for purpose. If rented property is of substandard type or landlords are acting outside of the law then use the Department of the Environment who already have powers in the Housing Act 2011 to take action against the offenders which is already on statute.

If, as a landlord, I am to be subject to checks, jumping through hoops and ticking boxes, so should tenants be subject to the same scrutiny by the landlords. No, Mr Robertshaw, this is not a different issue – it is one and the same: landlords, as I have found out to my cost, have no rights.

As a pensioner I find I have enough paperwork I cannot handle, so I won’t be joining your club with even more and certainly not at your prices which are sure to go up annually.

I will in future leave my flat for the use of my family should they wish to stay at TT etc. I see this bill will reduce the number of good flats of honest landlords, drastically reducing rented accommodation with rents taking a sharp rise. This will, in turn, cost the DHSS more in rental costs and an outgoing of benefit top up to people who lose a small taxable income. I was the only person willing to take my current tenant so he will be your problem the day this proposal passes into law.

I have been told that this proposal has in part been copied from Scotland which, when introduced there, would cost, and I quote:

‘The Landlord Registration Scheme has so far cost landlords and the taxpayer nearly £18 million since 2006, figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives have revealed.

‘That the breakdown revealed responsible landlords have paid £11.2 million in fees, while the start-up Scottish Government grant for the scheme was £5.2 million. Annual running fees for the website since 2006 are estimated to be just under £300,000.

‘Despite that cost, only a handful of cases have made it as far as the Crown Office, and only 40 landlords have been refused registration, compared with 200,000 successful applicants.

‘The details emerged following a series of parliamentary questions by Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone.’

The above I am sure you are fully aware of although you are still pursuing the current proposal which will serve to provide a cash cow for your departments coffers in registration fees and £20,000 fines, and not forgetting your ace card that being the removal of right of a landlord to choose whom they wish to offer a tenancy to, especially when it comes to the wording of advertisements.

If government intends to dictate how I run my business they should first buy my business. You are using legislation which you will pass to allow you to abrogate your liabilities and responsibilities which you have under the social service legislation and pass it to other sectors of society who have not been trained to deal with the sector of your clientele that you cannot do by other means.

I am told my property is in good order and I should be getting a higher rent than I am. I therefore assume that unlike some I am not as greedy. At the age of 71 life is complicated enough with forms and small print at every corner, you have convinced me I do not need or want any more.

P.S. I have just come back from a meeting of landlords where there is very strong feeling this, I think will be in the news soon. The feeling was it is so bureaucratic and ill thought-out, a lot of small landlords will drop out. Leaving a lot less choice for tenants and rents will rise.

I am removing my nice flat from the market.

M. Hodgson, Address supplied


‘Biggest scandal’

Why is the Sefton bail-out the biggest scandal for over 20 years?

Let’s re-cap. Allan Bell and Eddie Teare did a secret sweetheart deal on terms they could not get anywhere else with the directors and shareholders of Sefton Group plc.

Mr Bell and Mr Teare did not even consult their fellow MHKs.

There are eight directors and nine shareholders who own 75 per cent of Sefton. They get the big benefits. Few others get any benefits at all.

The Chief and Treasury Ministers have put public money at risk. If Sefton Group does not survive anyway, public money will be lost, and the directors and shareholders will lose income and investments. On the other hand if Sefton Group survives and prospers, the upside for government is minute, but for the directors and shareholders it is massive, they will make loads ‘n loads of money.

We have been subjected to a stream of spurious statements from Mr Bell and Mr Teare, peppered with partial truths which do not stand up to scrutiny.

Mr Bell and Mr Teare have used their authority to favour a few members of the business elite, and ipso facto discriminated against others in the business community and the rest of us.

This blatant abuse of political power by Mr Bell and Mr Teare is what makes the Sefton scandal the biggest for over 20 years.

All members of Tynwald have a duty of care to the whole of the Manx public, not just a small section. Mr Bell and Mr Teare have trashed theirs. They should resign.

If Mr Bell and Mr Teare refuse to go, then it is up to others in Tynwald to confirm their status as honourable members and force them out, soon.

A. Walton, Baldrine

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