The Secret Landlord, author of new book Parasite – The Secret Diary of a Landlord sets out her unfettered views of the current debate about evictions during the pandemic and beyond.

It’s an opinion many working in housing won’t like. But evicting tenants is part and parcel of the business of being a landlord.

It is, for want of a better word, a tool of the trade. Admittedly, emotionally, not a very nice one. But, when I decide to evict a tenant, it is wholly a business choice.

It could be because the tenant has not paid the rent, the property needs to be sold, or maybe that the property no longer makes financial sense. In all scenarios, the context is economic: Evictions are an economic choice.

This line of thinking seems to have escaped many politicians and housing charities who accuse landlords of having some sort of personal agenda.

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‘Revenge evictions’ made the headlines for a bit, and then the government brought in more legislation outlawing that sort of behaviour.

The language was emotive, socially shaming, and likely due to a small number of rogue landlords who mucked it up for the vast majority following the not inconsiderable rule book.

The main problem which many people can’t get their head around is: evictions are normal. And maybe it’s unpleasant to realise they are a cost of doing business, but ignoring the reality doesn’t make this situation go away. Legislating to pretend things are otherwise is dangerous and damaging to the entire housing sector.

Economic sense

Redundancies, restructuring and letting staff go are a necessary part of running a business. And it’s sad when people lose their jobs, but it’s a fact of business. No matter what the government do, they cannot protect every job – because some jobs do not make economic sense.

And so it is with housing. Not all properties make financial sense. Not all landlords can run a business and make it economically viable. Not all tenants will pay their rent as they are meant to. And it is unfortunate when people lose their homes through no fault of their own, but people also lose their jobs through no fault of their own.

Miserable

These situations are miserable, but when an employer cannot make the maths stack to keep people on, the decision must be made to let go. And so it is with landlords, when the sums don’t add up – evictions must be issued. Laying people off is normal, evicting tenants is normal.

The government have introduced artificial delays to the system. The eviction ban, like much of the furlough scheme, has only kicked the can further down the road.

You cannot stop the inevitable.

People will lose jobs; people will lose homes. It’s sad and unfortunate, but unless we understand how buy-to-let works, there won’t just be tenants on the streets, but also landlords.

The Secret Landlord

The Secret Landlord has been renting, refurbishing and selling properties across the UK for almost two decades. Her book, Parasite? The Secret Diary of a Landlord is out now.

READ: Landlord compliance checklist.

3 COMMENTS

  1. The author seems to be arguing that the housing situation the UK has experienced for the last 30 years or so is “normal” and cannot possibly change.
    Why does the author think this situation is set in stone?
    It’s a political choice. The UK could easily return to the housing situation we had in the 1970s, with more social housing and secure tenancy regulations.

    Ten years ago, someone could have easily assumed that UK membership of the EU was as set in stone and “normal” as the private rental sector regulations.

    Times change and history rhymes.

  2. @Ron Tone We could in theory return to the situation in the 1970s when there was no PRS to speak of. However, it became very difficult for tenants to move for work because they could not find a replacement property. When Councils housed peopled it was almost impossible to move into a new area. After all, why would Council A house someone from Area B when it had people on its waiting list? Sorry Ron but your proposal will not work in modern Britain.

    The author could perhaps have been a bit more nuanced but fundamentally is right. Without the ability to regain possession of a house the private landlord will be reluctant to rent in the first place. We are starting to see that now, albeit COVID is hiding some of the problems. Last year the criticism was of “no fault evictions” using s21 and politicians promised to abolish it. This year we learn that it may take over a year to get a court date for non-payment of rent. Politicians need to realise that this is unsustainable.

  3. In the 1970s, the population was more stable. A lot of people lived on the same street as their family their whole lives.
    Some single men moved for work. They either lived in employer provided accommodation or lodged in guesthouses.

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