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Barry X
Barry X
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Barry X
When he says "It is time to review Osborne’s tax changes on buy to let landlords" does that mean he will personally champion and work hard to accomplish the scrapping and reversal of those damaging taxes, all of them, especially the 3% surcharge SDLT and phasing out of mortgage interest relief (which I see as really being a phasing IN of taxing you for legitimate business expenditure and investment costs)? If 'yes he will' then then great. If not then its all just political posturing and hot air. Perhaps I'm just a cynic but I don't for a moment think his comments about introducing yet another tax, this time on empty properties (and cunningly calling it a "buy to leave" tax - very emotive and liberal sounding to me) was just an after thought that popped into his head while writing this. I personally think it's what this is all really about - sneaking in yet more tax without actually doing anything about the excessive and unfair burden we already have to bear. All his nice words - that we like to hear - are probably just political packaging to sweeten us and ensure that nobody (apart from people like me) notice what might really be going on. Let him put OUR money where his mouth is before we trust or back him! Incidentally - I've long been aware of the sneaky "long term empty" council tax surcharge. Not every agent, landlord or general property investor knows about it but everyone should. Long ago (after the poll tax fiasco) c/tax was introduced to pay for local services used by the people living in the property, and if nobody lived in the property there was nothing (ever) to pay. Then, to ensure people weren't taking advantage of that "loophole" councils started inspecting properties where the owners were claiming the exemption. Then they introduced the rule that it had to be unfurnished" as well as empty (which was awkward in some cases but fair enough). Then the exemption was limited to being available only for a maximum of 1 year, then 6 months, then a piffling 2 weeks, and now it isn't available at all. At the same time they are quietly phasing IN a council tax on empty properties - it's already there - if your property has been empty for more than 2 years (by even a day) you must now pay 50% MORE c/tax than a normal couple would pay, while living there, for local services. You should be able to see where this is going..... soon it will be charged where the property has been empty for over 1 year (not 2), then 6 months, then perhaps 2 weeks or maybe right away as soon as the tenants move out we'll be slapped with a 50% c/tax surcharge when we shouldn't have to pay anything at all. .....then, after a while, for "social" reasons, the surcharge will jump to 100%..... all of this is very wrong and very unfair.... why should landlords have to subsidies the local council and pay for their often poor financial management and silly projects? We MUST remember that as property owners we are sitting ducks or, to continue the farm-yard metaphor, seen by local and central governments as their live-stock to be milked, fleeced and - when they become desperate - eaten alive! It's time we did more than occasionally bleat or mew in protest at these indignities, perhaps it's time we learned to bite back, or maybe become some kind of skunks and leave the politicians who thought they could fleece, milk, or generally harvest us with such an awful and permanent sticking stain on their careers that it "encourages the others" to treat us with more care and respect? ....I dream on, knowing we're just sheep really.

From: Barry X 19 July 2017 11:06 AM

Barry X
As an ethical and responsible landlord I *used* to make an annual donation to Shelter thinking it was a good cause and believing that as someone in the property business it was the right thing to do to support an organisation that not only helped homeless people but - I thought - gave useful legal advice to tenants and perhaps helped them better understand not only their rights but also obligations. I did that from 1996 (when I started) until probably about 2009 or 2010. There are several reasons I not only abandoned my support for them but am happy to make often strongly negative comments about them. The main one being the way - in my opinion - they have become so political. Their politics seems to be one sided; usually focusing on generating adverse press and negativity against landlords who they appear always to distrust and view as 'in the wrong' or 'likely to be in the wrong' even though a great many - like us - certainly aren't, and all the tenants are depending on them. Worse still, in my opinion, Shelter have a long been canvassing and campaigning (in an either very misguided or more likely cynical and self-interested way) to bring more and more red tape and pointless legislation to the private rental sector. They also seem keen to erode and undermine landlords rights - I've written about this here before - Shelter (and generally most left wing organisations and politicians with an interest in rented property) seem to want to put the clock back to the time before s.21 notices allowing landlords to have their properties back, i.e. regain vacant possession, but (and this is vitally important) with "no fault" and "mandatory". Prior to that most tenants were in effect "sitting tenants" of one sort or another. It was the introduction of the Section 21 Notice (and even more so its further deregulation) that caused the whole rental market to blossom in this country, and finally made it worth while for people to invest in property *and* rent it out. Anyhow, it seems to be the way the world is going and there's probably not much we can do about it - certainly not during my "numbered days" anyhow. Oh well.

From: Barry X 26 June 2017 14:15 PM

Barry X
They're desperate for votes and these all seem to me to be just 'opportunistic' policies to try and gain votes from ignorant people who might believe this could all simply happen and then work for them in their favour. None of the people who cobbled these policy ideas together are likely to know anything at all about the private rental sector, let alone how or why its enormous expansion and diversity happened. Prior to the Housing Act 1988 coming into force more or less anyone renting residential property was a "sitting tenant", mainly under the 1954 Act or something similar. The 1988 Act, followed by a few tweaks and slightly more deregulation in the 1996 Act is what REALLY allowed it all to happen, with the potential for mandatory possession via a "section 21" (s21) notice, and all the rest. Rents could at last be 'fair open market' and not set by some out of touch committee (rent tribunal or whatever) that favoured tenants and didn't seem to have heard of inflation! It's fairly well known that a property let to a "sitting tenant" is worth about 1/3 of the open market value of exactly the same property with vacant possession, i.e. no sitting tenant. More or less the only people who can buy properties with sitting tenants are "professional investors" with cash, at auctions, because such properties are virtually unmortgageable. All the recent measures undermining the validity or enforceable of the s21, such as the "anti-retaliatory eviction" rules and requirements for landlords to prove they have "protected" deposits (when they were already protected by law anyhow), all those measures (and more to come, no doubt) are actually undermining the whole concept and basis of the modern private rental sector/market and returning it to the stagnant mess of the late 1970s and 1980s when there was no point or incentive for landlords to spend money on keeping properties looking 'smart' and up to date because it made no difference, and if you had a nice property you wouldn't consider renting it to anyone because you'd be a fool if you did! Also, all of these measures undermine the concept of property ownership and are, in my opinion, a sort of back door (pardon the pun), slow, stealthy and ultra-cheap way of indirectly accruing private property and turning it all into a sort of "social housing" under state and legislative control. Could be time to get out..... I've been thinking about that for quite a while myself and considering other, brighter, better things to do with what's left of my life. Good luck to new entrants - the long term prospects may not be as good as they once were in years gone by (with good capital growth, high rental yields and relatively low running and management costs). "Past performance is no indication of future potential" or something.

From: Barry X 18 May 2017 11:26 AM

Barry X
Whilst a publicly searchable "naming and shaming" database is a good idea in theory it is more likely to be (a) ineffective in solving any of the 'real' problems, just as the RLA rightly says, but worse still (b) various interest groups will probably find ways to abuse it, e.g. by using it to "name and shame" landlords who are (for whatever reasons) slow or perhaps reluctant to pay for various local authority "registration schemes" or perhaps in future (when it comes) decide not to pay to participate in LA sponsored "training" for landlords or something. If there were some magic wand that could be waved to enable the administrators of this proposed database to generate an up to date and accurate list of genuinely rouge landlords, such as those renting "beds in sheds", or operating demonstrably unsafe or overcrowded HMOs, then fine. But they already have powers to seek out and prosecute those landlords yet normally fail to find or deal with more than a tiny percentage. Personally I'm both skeptical and a little suspicious of this latest proposal. I'm watching for the various bogus excuses to justify then force it upon us, make us pay for it, then use it for purposes other than those it was claimed to be created to address. Most likely it'll be the start of, or a step towards, some sort of compulsory national registration scheme that every landlord (and letting agent of course) is suppose to pay to get onto the "white list"of, then keep paying to stay on. It will be interesting to see.

From: Barry X 27 April 2017 13:16 PM

Barry X
I've had exactly the same thing happen to me now and then..... various "job's worths" at the council dump (more grandly known as the "Household Reuse and Recycling Centre"). I have a small single-axle trailer and used to use it for clearing gardening waste, or very occasionally disposing of old furniture and mattresses and things (we rent unfurnished and sometimes tenants leave abandoned furniture behind that we don't want or need). The great thing about the trailer, apart from protecting the car from getting dirty, is you can get everything to the dump (yes, I still like to call it that) in a single journey, which is good from every point of view - saving me time, less journeys, less traffic (I suppose) and quicker and better for other users of the dump too (there's usually a queue and by using the trailer I'm in and out much quicker as it's so much easier to unload and I'm only there once instead of 3 or 4 times)..... AND, all of the waste I've ever taken to the dump on my trailer has ONLY been "domestic", i.e. garden waste and/or household furniture or whatever to dispose of, AND it has ONLY come from properties (I have a few) in the area that the "HRRC" serves and for which council tax has been not only paid but over paid since the council (like most, probably all, others in the UK also charges for "empty and unoccupied" properties that really should still be exempt as the whole point about c/tzx was it's supposed to pay for the services the residents are using and, quite obviously, when there are no residents nobody is using services .....and the "unfurnished" status of a property was originally only meant to demonstrate that nobody was living there - previously you only had to *say* nobody was living there but of course that got abused hence the need to start inspections to decide... it certainly isn't the furniture that is "using local services" other than perhaps the dump when thrown away! Anyhow, I almost never use my trailer anymore, which is a great shame, because they've made it so difficult and been so awkward, so instead I usually make multiple trips in my car which for some reason the council people seem to prefer. In summary: its household waste and c/tax has been paid not just in full but probably in excess during void periods. We should therefore be able to dispose of it at the dump as landlords since exactly the same items can be disposed of there by our tenants (if they wanted to or could be bothered) as they are the "residents". Incidentally, I once witnessed an argument between a handyman and the "job's worth" at the gate; apparently an elderly lady who was bed ridden had paid him to collect some items from her house to take to the dump for her but he wouldn't let him in because he was "trade". absurdly, he was telling him to take everything back to her and tell her she'd need to bring it herself (even though she couldn't even walk)! ....that's the sort of nonsense we're also dealing with her.

From: Barry X 06 December 2016 10:12 AM

Barry X
I agree with Luke P's comment above - exactly so. Nearly all charities turn out to be more political and meddling once they've been going for long enough and become big enough to forget what it was they were supposed to be doing in the first place. Most government agencies start out that way and seem to think it they're raison d'etre. Let's not even *start* talking about the "neutrality" of the BBC (I call them the ant-British Broadcasting Company) with their highly (obviously left-wing) political bias and endless peddling of propaganda and, well, lies. My mother was a volunteer for Citizen's Advice Bureau for a few years. Much as I love my mother I can't say I was impressed with some of what she was doing - very well intended though it was - for the CAB..... she was untrained and unqualified to give advice about tenancies or the law and everything was based mainly on prejudice and guesswork plus interpretation now and then of a few very generalised, vague and covertly politisised CAB leaflets. I was appalled at some of the advice she gave then told me about, e.g. some tenants who'd damaged a property, owed rent and left without giving notice (and apparently either abandoning some furniture of theirs or leaving it there for "storage" in the hoe of being able to come back for it later if a friend with a car could help them move it). My mother took pity on them because they were a "young couple" and in her opinion they had just been "silly" which, being all heart, she felt obviously anyone could be.... told them not to worry about the damage they'd done, even though they admitted it to her and said it had been a concern to them, because "the landlord would have trouble proving it was them", and not to worry about the furniture or fact they hadn't even cleaned the flat because "nobody would be moving in for a while anyhow so it shouldn't matter" and as for not giving notice "the landlord should accept that anyone can make a mistake and they'll know better next time". I think however that if the landlord had gone to see her and been wearing scruffy clothes and looking sad she might have felt sorry for him (if he was lucky, and even though he was a landlord) and given very different advice for the same situation! Oh well.

From: Barry X 28 October 2016 11:51 AM

Barry X

From: Barry X 13 October 2016 09:46 AM

Barry X
sorry about this rather long post - not sure if anyone will bother reading it but never mind - I'll make my comments.... Although I agree there may well be a long term objective on the part of various councils (especially labour ones) to ultimately take over private sector property to replace the sold-off council stock I think there is a much simpler, much shorter term objective and I think it should be glaringly obvious; the councils just see us (landlords) as sitting ducks owning properties and unable to flay away, if you'll forgive me for stretching the metaphor - although they'd love to fleece and milk us which makes it a more complicated mixed-metaphor! but the way they are going they will ultimately cook the goose and/or simply kill the goose that they'd hoped would keep laying them golden eggs, or something.... The point is they are simply hell-bent on taking money from us as they see us as an easy and more or less defenseless target. Look at the facts; disgracefully and dishonestly, across the country they've phased out council tax exemptions for empty and unoccupied properties.... from no time limit, to 1 year, to 6 months, for a while to a farcical 2 weeks and currently nothing. But don't believe for a moment that's the end of it.... oh no and far from it, their feeble excuse (lie) for ripping us off this way was to "incentivise" us to "bring unused properties back into use"! In reality they LOVE unocuppied proerties because they are now receiving 100% c/tax for them without having to provide a service to anyone! If a single person was living in the property they'd have to (grudgingly) allow a 25% discount while actually having to do something for the money. The next stage, already long planned incidentally, is to charge us A PREMIUM on c/tax for unoccupied properties! I read about this almost 3½ years ago as a suggestion from a left wing "think tank". For example they're thinking they might get away with charging perhaps 150%, or even more (or again phase it in starting with a 15% "surcharge" or whatever we might be stupid enough to have the "appetite" to swallow) on a daily basis for empty properties! You have been warned - you've now read about this up-coming scam right here. In theory c/tax is supposed to be collected from the people who use the services, in practice they'll take it from anyone they can get it from. We own quite a few properties and typically have several short rental voids a year - we used to use those periods for repairs and renewals but not anymore - now we try to work around tenants while they are living there, even if it annoys them a bit and is inconvenient! Otherwise we'd have to pay even more of this nasty landlord stealth tax. It surprises me how very little there has been in the press about all this - virtually nothing compared to the discussion (sadly dying down now) about other dishonest stealth taxes like phasing out tax relief on mortgage interest even though this results in taxing on gross turnover rather than net profit and so is a radical change from the fundamental principle of "income" tax - imagine if, for example, restaurants were not allowed to claim food or the gas or electricity they used to cook it with as allowable expenses? So..... given that these greedy, or perhaps just desperate, councils are simply after our money on any-old pretext, why not also scam us for "licensing schemes", selective or otherwise, and if possible more than one applying to each property in the end, e.g. one for "health and safety" and other for "landlord competence/compliance" another for "social impact" etc? Obviously absolutely none of the schemes will achieve any useful benefit or result for tenants or the public or indeed anyone else except of course for the council pocketing all the juicy annual fees (and having the full force of the law to back them up at the tax payers' expense and certainly not theirs). All of this is an utter disgrace but not in any way remotely unexpected or difficult to understand. Only wide-scale, well organised, well funded and long-term sustained rebellion has any chance against such forces, and I fear they will wear us all down and win in the long run. Sadly, history seems to teach us that. But the more hassle we can give them and the longer we can hold out the better! I probably don't have that long left to live (currently a cancer survivor) so from my selfish point of view just a few more years at the most should do it - but my legacy to the world (if I make any at all) might be to inspire others to fight on!

From: Barry X 10 October 2016 13:02 PM

Barry X
I seem to remember there was once an advert for something or other, with the strapline or slogan "a million American women can't be wrong" , but it turned out that they were and the product was seriously harmful! (I tried googling it just now but was disappointed not to be able to find it - perhaps someone with a better memory can help?)..... ....anyhow, if a million American women can be wrong (and often are) then it's even easier to see how a mere ¼ million English tenants can be living in a dream-world cocoon where a benign, loving and trustworthy government (or 'BLTG' for short) has the power, foresight and skill to make naughty, greedy Lettings Agents (hisss, booo) continue to invest in their businesses, buying or renting offices, keeping up to date with all the latest legislation (which this fantasy 'BLTG' churns out in even vaster quantities than does our real-life, fairly useless, self-interested and incompetent government) and best of all the 'BLTG' makes all those horrid agents WORK FOR FREE as some sort of big favour to Tenants everywhere (and presumably it's ok, because the agents are all living on welfare payouts from the 'BLTG' and chose to work for free as agents just for the love and fun of it, instead of going fishing or staying at home watching tv to pass the time or perhaps playing computer games)..... yes, Utopia at its best (for those that can't think very far)..... and #of course it would work, and the tenants would never pay extra'.... ....and her next petition? Obviously to bring in legislation to force landlords to provide accommodation for free, but obviously still pay the same tax they would have done IF they had been allowed to make a profit, or better still make them pay more (and pretend its to ensure "fairness and transparency" or something)!!!!! Yeah, sure, more pointless legislation, yawn.... when does the next landlord/agent-express leave for another country?

From: Barry X 18 April 2016 16:18 PM

Barry X
....and a "victim surcharge"..... once again I can't help wondering who the real "victim" is here (certainly not the council or the public at large). No doubt now Waltham Forest council has forcibly extracted this money from her they will use it to "improve living standards" in the house she has been apparently successfully and quietly renting for the last 11 years..... no? I thought not! Presumably too, the mere fact of her being forced to pay for this licence (and WF's costs in extorting it from her) will now somehow magically prevent (or at the very least reduce) anti-social behaviour somewhere or other, perhaps even in her own rental property? No? again, I thought not! What better sector to target for such a scam than us, the not especially popular and also largely helpless sitting-duck-Private-Landlords...?... yes, we're easy pickings for central and local governments alike and they know it and are onto us. I'm starting to think that maybe, contrary to my usual politics, we should organise ourselves into a very militant and alarming landlord's union and when there are enough of us to safely fight back we should start organising carefully planned and well thought out c/tax strikes and of course all of us should absolutely refuse to participate in any of their daft and fraudulent "licencing schemes" that appear to be designed purely and simply to take money from us while doing absolutely nothing useful or relevant, let alone of value or importance, for anyone. I think it disgraceful enough that c/tax exemptions have been systematically phased out over the last few years (now there is none, whereas once there was quite rightly no c/tax to pay for empty and unfurnished properties - for a year, then reduced to 6 months, then a token 2 weeks and now abolished, and no doubt with "surcharges", e.g. 150% to pay in future to "incentivise" us to "bring our empty properties back into use for hard working families" or whatever similarly emotive lies they will use to justify the next step in their endless and escalating campaign of fleecing us).

From: Barry X 21 March 2016 11:26 AM

Barry X
It's bizarre.... now we have a Tory majority it turns out we really have a Liberal not Conservative government! It seems dishonest-Dave was a crypto- liberal all along and is now using Tory votes to force through socialist legislation and changes. He and his cronies are essentially dictators with no regard or respect for the people who were duped into electing them, and so it's not surprising that don't give a damn about Andrew Goldthorpe's concerns and feel at liberty (being liberals) to casually dismiss him and insult his (and our) intelligence with their double-speak lying response. Slapping a 3% SDLT surcharge on to BTL purchases wasn't designed to create buying opportunities for "families who can’t afford a home" (in general it will make next to no difference to them if they already can't afford to "buy a home"). It was designed to fleece the sitting duck (a mixed metaphor for which I apologise!) of private rental sector landlords. And note their devious double-speak claim that they "...we’ll reinvest SOME of that money in local communities..." which is coded language to explain that they need this money for other things and will not spend any of it (apart from perhaps some token amount if vote catching or news worthy) on doing anything to help so-called "families who can't afford to buy a home". But there's more..... We've been hit by several other huge anti-BTL, anti-private rental sector stealth-tax hikes too.... some that seem to have slipped passed most people unnoticed, e.g. the disgraceful phasing out of the fair and necessary exemption from COUNCIL TAX for EMPTY UNFURNISHED AND UNOCCUPIED PROPERTIES. We are now being forced to pay literally thousands of pounds a year in c/tax for properties between tenancies. It is despicable and utterly unfair! There used to be, quite rightly, a complete exemption - as c/tax (that replaced rates and, temporarily, the unpopular "poll tax") was designed to collect money to pay for local services the people living there were using or could use. Empty flats and houses don't these services so why should they now be paying for them. Illogically the 1 year exemption that was reduced to a 6 month exemption and then - pathetically - a 2 week exemption was abolished altogether on the grounds that this way "Landlords can now support some of the most vulnerable people in the community" (that was what our local council claimed in their covering letter when writing to us to explain away this latest stealth-tax hike). And there's more to come..... the next step will of course be to hit us all with a SURCHARGE COUNCIL TAX RATE (perhaps double or even triple) to "encourage" us to "bring empty properties back into use". Another blatant lie, of course, since who wants to have an empty rental property... the council probably does because they are now taxing us for it without having to provide any service for that money! (Imagine the outrage if commuters who took the day off work because they were unwell were forced to pay train fares for journeys they didn't take, perhaps having to pay a surcharge of more than the normal cost, and the greedy cash-strapped council claimed it was doing this to encourage them back to work or something!)

From: Barry X 25 January 2016 10:00 AM

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