Communities and Local Government CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Graham Heather

1. I am both a tenant and a landlord. I rent the flat I live in and I have 4 houses I rent to tenants. I started buying houses to let 38 years ago.

2. Tenants require somewhere to live without having to buy it. Landlords invest a huge amount of money to provide and maintain those places to live.

3. If a landlord doesn’t provide good value for money then the landlord will not be able to find a tenant because the tenant will rent from someone else. If a landlord fails to maintain property while a tenant is living there then the tenant will leave. This is costly to the landlord because there is no return on the investment if the property remains empty so the landlord has to provide good value.

4. The tenant has no investment in the property and will only live there as long as it is convenient so the market provides all the safeguards a tenant needs by offering alternatives. Tenants have additional safeguards in existing legislation covering Assured Shorthold Tenancies and Periodic Tenancies.

5. The times when disputes occur between landlords and tenants they are usually when the tenant won’t pay the rent. There are not many occasions when a tenants can’t pay the rent because in those circumstances the tenant usually gets Housing Benefit but the rent has to fall at least eight weeks into arrears before councils will make sure that the Housing Benefit is being used for its intended purpose by paying directly to the landlord. By that time relations will already have become strained between the landlord and tenant so paying all Housing Benefit directly from Councils to landlords would go a long way toward eliminating disputes.

6. Landlords are rooted to the property and cannot escape their obligations. Tenants can live in a property with the support of the law for several months without paying rent and while damaging the property then they can disappear into the night leaving their obligations behind. Even if they could be found it usually isn’t worth the cost because if they have no money there is no point in taking them to court.

7. So as a landlord I don’t need or want any additional regulation and if such things as rent controls and compulsory licensing schemes are introduced I will sell each of my houses. And as a tenant I feel adequately protected already and I don’t want my rent to go up to cover the cost of additional bureaucracy imposed on my landlord.

January 2013

Prepared 16th July 2013