Daily Archives: October 24, 2016

DIARY OF A PROPERTY INVESTOR – DAY 7

I think I have gotten to the bottom of the statement by Shelter that 40% of Tenants live in “substandard accommodation”. I have to say that if I am right in one sense I am not surprised but in another I am amazed that no one has picked up on this. But let me explain what I have found and then you can make up your own mind.

If you look at Day 6 you will see I posted recently about Shelter’s assertion that 4 in 10 properties are substandard This caused a lot of comment for example, see in the link below

https://www.facebook.com/groups/UKProperryTraders/1796914283886839/?comment_id=1797078103870457&notif_t=like&notif_id=1476904128763292

But what was clear is that both myself and those who commented took at face value what Shelter had said. The question I was asking was could it be true that 40% of Tenants are living in substandard accommodation. Nobody including myself questioned what that meant. We all assumed it meant living in horrible accommodation that no reasonable person would want to live in. The question I was asking and people were responding to was could this actually be true?

Today I have seen the news item below

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37655908

What I think this is saying (although I would be grateful if someone with more knowledge than me would confirm if factually I am right) is that Shelter have introduced a new standard for what they say is acceptable and then decided that statistically 4 in 10 properties do not comply with that standard.  They have reached this conclusion based on a survey of less than 2,000 people.   So in other words the Guardian article about 40% of Tenants living in substandard accommodation is based entirely on this proposition. So the term” substandard ” cannot be taken at face value. It has to be taken as the definition provided by Shelter against which all accommodation is judged.

So I looked further and found the definition by Shelter which you can find here

http://www.shelter.org.uk/livinghomestandard?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=LHS&utm_content=Text_ad_6&gclid=CPXOm6ye7M8CFcIV0wodOK8C2g

To me this makes all the difference in the world to what is being said by Shelter. I accept that in an ideal world it would be great if all Tenants lived in accommodation as Shelter proposes. But I am not sure Landlords alone are responsible for this. Look for example at one of the criteria e.g. Neighbourhood. How can Landlord’s influence that? But any Tenant in a bad neighbour is classed by Shelter as living in “substandard accommodation”. And the implication from the Press is that Landlords are to blame.

But this is not the real point I am making.  My concern is that language is being used that gives a very false impression of what is being said.  Saying people are living in substandard accommodation gives an impression of people living in complete squalor in their home, squalor which is the fault of the Landlord. Saying people are living in “substandard ” accommodation because they are not in a nice neighbourhood to me is saying something very different. It is like saying people who earn less than a certain amount should be defined as living in poverty and then equating their poverty with the poverty of someone living in a very poor country with nothing and maybe facing starvation. If people are housed fed and provided with a small income they may be in relative poverty but they are not in absolute poverty. If you call both poverty to me, you are completely confusing people and equating two situations which actually have nothing to do with each other.

You might say so what?  The problem is that if this type of argument if not challenged it begins a narrative whereby all Landlords get branded as bad. Now I started my conversation because to me it seemed staggering that 2 million plus Tenants could be living in substandard accommodation as stated in the original Guardian article I saw.  From my experience those figures just did not match the reality of what I see as a Landlord. I think that now I have the full picture it is clear this statement and how it is being used is very unfair to Landlords. But what I can also see is that this type of assertion being made on a regular basis by well-funded pressure groups like Shelter is having a demonstrable effect on Government Policy for all parties and is becoming accepted as truth because it is repeated so often.

So I wanted to ask the question is this true or not and if it is not true why (as far as I can see) it is never properly challenged by those bodies that represent Landlords   It was not a case of just wanting to attack or defend a point of view it was to try and get at the truth. Because it is only if we know the truth that we can defend our interests properly. If it turned out that 40% of Landlords do provide sub-standard accommodation (as an average person would define it)  I would be the first to condemn this even though I am a Landlord because to me to make our sector more acceptable we have to get our house in order ( if necessary!!!) and then we can defend what we do that is right.

Based on the new information I have found (and if I am right and actually what is being said is that 40% of Tenants do not live in accommodation based on an artificial standard Shelter have decided to set and that assertion is based on a survey of less than 2,000 people) then to me that is completely different.

But my question is why is there no one to point this out and put the counter argument. Why do Landlord bodies allow the media to make assertions like this and not challenge them properly?

It is all well and good for us to throw up our hands and just dismiss this as prejudice but what is worrying me is that this is the basis upon which our industry is being taken apart and if we just leave this undefended we can expect more. My suspicion is that if we looked into it is this type of spurious argument that led George Osborne to turn on Landlords

So my question to you is how can we get bodes to defend our interests by looking at the points that I think really count like this and making sure these points are nailed on our behalf. I just do not see that happening at the current time with the bodies representing Landlords like the NLA or RLA.

Sorry for this rather lengthy digression from the normal content of my blog but I do think this is important for Landlords and if I am trying to really let you into how my journey as a Property Investor then hopefully all aspects of what I consider are of interest