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Letting agent angered by Lib Dem canvassing email

A London letting agent has expressed their dismay with a canvassing email sent by Liberal Democrat London mayoral candidate Caroline Pidgeon.

The email, sent to prospective voters last week, was received by Claire Empson, managing director of Daisy lets & sales based in Dulwich, South London. 

Pidgeon expressed that she was 'shocked' by figures which show that London tenants pay nearly '3/4 of their take-home on rent'.

It outlined the politician’s plans to build 200,000 new homes in the capital should she win May's election ahead of Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan.

The message signed off with a plea for Londoners to get in touch with experiences they've had at the hands of landlords. 

It read: “P.S. To make my campaign stronger, I want to hear from you about your experience with landlords, or those of your family and friends – please let me know by replying to this email.”

It's this call for stories which particularly irritated Empson, who replied to Pidgeon with a strongly worded response. 

Empson's email, which has been seen by Letting Agent Today, informed Pidgeon that it was a bad idea to contact letting agents and landlords for stories which demonised the rental sector. 

“Agents are not charities,” wrote Empson. “They need to charge tenants for referencing, or we'd have to charge landlords, who would build it into the rent - so unless you want rents to keep going up, please stop and think and not jump on an easy bandwagon of landlord/agent bashing.” 

The agent argued that tenants in the capital enjoy the flexibility renting offers and do not necessarily want long-term tenancies.  

Empson went on to criticise the London Borough of Southwark’s selective licensing scheme.

She said that her firm has been trying to make sure that the right landlords have the right licensing but that they have experienced problems with the council’s section of the website dedicated to the scheme.

She added the licensing criteria is contradictory and that in some cases her firm has advised landlords they need a licence when in fact, thanks to changing rules, they’re not required to purchase one. 

The agent then expressed her concern about the incoming changes to landlords’ ability to claim tax relief on their buy-to-let mortgages.

“We have at least six of our long term managed properties [who have] indicated they are going to sell this year, if they haven't already put them on the market,” she wrote. 

She argued that these properties are not average first-time buyer homes and therefore are not helping first-timers on to the property ladder.

“Most of our landlords are honest decent people, investing in property instead of other investments, caring about their tenants and property,” says Empson. 

“For a few the property represents their old home which circumstances dictated they couldn't sell, or their pension, they are not raking in millions or taking advantage - most are very up against it - and will not be able to afford to continue renting them after the tax relief goes completely.”

Empson concluded by writing that she agrees that rents are too high but that victimising landlords is not the solution to the problem.

Last week Pidgeon outlined her vision for the London housing market. She proposed mandatory longer term tenancies, which could last up to five years, instead of the current six-months.

She also proposed the scrapping of letting agent fees for tenants and more support for boroughs to enforce housing standards.

Pidgeon’s manifesto was followed by Labour candidate Sadiq Khan’s, which put forward a plan to curb agent fees charged to tenants and introduce a ‘name and shame’ register of rogue landlords

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