A senior Conservative peer and consumer campaigner has spoken strongly in favour of landlords’ rights.
In a House of Lords debate on the current ban on bailiff-enforced evictions, Baroness Altmann of Tottenham - who as Ros Altmann was well known as an expert on pensions, social care and later life issues - stood up for buy to let investors.
She said: “It is absolutely right that tenants need to be protected against unreasonable behaviour by their landlords, and public health concerns absolutely mean that homelessness is really problematic and must be avoided wherever possible.”
And she continued: “The vast majority of tenants are responsible, but the vast majority of landlords are, too. The majority in fact own just one or two properties and look after their tenants with care.
“Some are pensioners, relying on rental income for their retirement security. Private landlords cannot be expected to continue to effectively pay to house people for free. That is a government role, and I agree with other noble Lords that there are important issues that we must address to support tenants who, through no fault of their own, and perhaps as a result of the pandemic, have found themselves in rent arrears.”
The Baroness then spoke of how some tenants - a minority - engaged in what eviction regulations call “egregious behaviour”, that is, anti-social behaviour, abusive behaviour or trespass.
She insisted that the current ban - which still has around a week to run - seeks to balance the interests of landlords, who may have suffered more than a year without any rental payments at all, and those of tenants who need a home.
Then she went on to tell Peers: “Of course, supporting tenants to help them continue to pay rent is a very effective way to help landlords, but there are cases where landlords will need to have their property back.”
She added that the six month notice of possession now required would ensure that tenants were secure until June at the very least “and, indeed, with the review stages being extended, it is likely to be quite significantly beyond that.”
Then she concluded: “They have time to either find new accommodation themselves or for social housing to be assigned to them if possible. I recognise that this is difficult and that in some cases we will be dealing with tenants who will find it difficult to be housed. However, I support the government in their efforts to balance the interests of innocent landlords with the needs of good tenants, who also must be protected.”
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