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Barry X
Barry X
1830  Profile Views

About Me

I happened to check my profile today for the first time ever and noticed there have been over 1,500 "viewings" of my completely empty profile.... presumably a lot of people reading my raving, ranting but (I hope) factually and technically coherent posts were curious to know a little about me?

Well, it's probably too late - anyone and everyone who wondered has already taken a look and been disappointed on finding nothing here..... at least nothing before today - 22nd Sept 2018 - SORRY about that.

While feeling guilty I've now made an effort to add a few notes. OK, quite a lot of notes...

Thanks for reading this,
I first became a landlord in 1996, while still working in IT (which I'd been doing since the start of the 80s and was by then a senior freelance manager).

Within 5 years of being both a part-time, but already very 'hands-on', landlord and full time IT professional I made the decision to abandon my successful and quite lucrative IT career to concentrate full-time on slowly growing and closely managing the properties.

In the early days I did absolutely everything myself - from finding tenants (using things like faxed-in "voucher ads" in Loot back then, long before emails or web-based advertising in this sector), managing lettings, property maintenance (luckily I have a lot of practical skills, but as the number of properties increased we used contractors more and more, and for about 3 years had 2 full time maintenance/handymen working for us too) and of course all aspects of the business side.

I say "we" and "us" because after a while my wonderful wife got fully involved too - she's much better at dealing with tenants than I am, plus good at making decisions about refurbishment specifications and so on.

As the world changed around us, and also because we got busier, we started working increasingly with agents - initially for "finders only" but now 'fully managed' on several properties and one day they can look after the lot!

One of the main problems for us (more for me, not so much my wife) has been that over the years I've carefully developed and refined our own tenancy agreements, as well as some simple but useful processes and paperwork - but the agents seem unable to use any of that if they do full management. Unfortunately all of their tenancy agreements look poor quality to me and not as good for our business by comparison!

Until recent years I had no regrets about that decision to switch from IT to property, but now I increasingly wonder if we'd have been better off if I'd concentrated on software and/or consultancy and perhaps built a solid business in that instead while keeping property as a useful sideline. There were so many great opportunities and I turned my back on all of them.

A real regret I certainly have is in not exiting from property in the UK, selling everything and reinvesting in something new abroad while still young and healthy and equally importantly before tax laws affecting tax residency and CGT changed fundamentally and very significantly in what I see as a greedy and ill-judged attempt by the government to take money from us (and anyone like us) but in practice just inhibiting and discouraging business and flexibility (if we'd sold CGT free for the properties in our own names then our buyers would still have paid what used to be stamp tax, and our company would have paid a lot of corporation tax for its sales, so instead of the government benefiting everyone lost out and we're all stuck with it).

As the years have passed since then we've seen spectacular sustained growth abroad in the sectors of interest to us in those counties and cities in the Far East we liked and would have opted for. Meanwhile here in the UK performance has (at least in my opinion, and by comparison, and after carefully taking exchange rates etc into account, and not helped by years of 'quantitative easing' and all the rest) - been very lack-luster. It's also been increasingly hampered by detrimental legislative and taxation changes coupled with rapidly changing social and cultural factors making a landlord's - or agents - life increasingly (and I think unfairly and uncomfortably) difficult.

Over those nearly two decades since moving from IT to full-time property I've developed quite in depth knowledge of relevant landlord-tenant law, both for "let" properties and also freeholder/leaseholder legislation - something I'm extremely involved with these days for various reasons. (In my IT days, particularly during the 90s as a project and later program manager and at times IT director/CTO or whatever, I got very much interested in contract law as well as to an extent intellectual property Law or IP, but not bricks and mortar property law back then).

So now you know quite a bit about me. Another thing of relevance, I suppose, is I was diagnosed with "terminal" cancer in 2014, after getting increasingly but mysteriously ill the previous year. I was then thought to have only 3-4 months to live, but over 4½ years later I'm still here - now on "borrowed time" and very much dependent on the private health policy I luckily took out more than a decade ago and without which I'd almost certainly already be dead by now (anyone out there who believes they can trust their life for long-term illness care to the NHS should try it for themselves). Anyhow, that's another thing - other than tax and whatnot - that makes it extremely hard for us to move anywhere.

Life eh? For a while it seems to stretch out in front of us with unlimited possibilities. Then we find how short it is; time passes so quickly and there are more boundaries in all directions - many of them invisible but still uncrossable - we don't have to stray far before we start to find them.

Despite the frustration of it all, and the vagaries of life, we're doing just fine and actually I feel both contented and very lucky indeed.

In case anyone is curious about my profile image - it's a snapshot the patient records on my first oncologist's bookshelf. A brilliant, as well as very charming man (and a rather old fashioned / old-school one as you can tell from his filing system) and one of the growing number of people who've each contributed so much to keeping me alive. My medical history since being diagnosed with cancer is just one of the many folders in the photo - so mine (representing me) is just one of the many very similar looking folders, and that's how I see life and death in perspective.

A thought provoking quote of uncertain origin - it turns out to be much older than it might at first seem - that I'd like to share with you (and apologies if you think it corny or trite or have hear it before) is:

The past is history, the future a mystery, but the TODAY is a gift which is why its called 'The Present'!

my expertise in the industry


Barry's Recent Activity

Barry X
Another clear attack on the private rental sector, which this article makes reasonably clear. The CGT exempt period after moving out of your own home and letting it used to be 3 years, and had been for a very long time. It was halved (unfairly I thought) to just 18 months from April 2014. Halving it again to a piffling 9 months is just a short step from abolishing it all together. A very similar thing happened regarding council tax on empty and unoccupied properties. Originally as long as a property was unoccupied it was exempt form c/tax as the tax was designed (in 1992 when introduced) to pay for local services used by the residents. Then a 1 year limit was introduced, then (and this bit is the only part I feel was fair) it became a requirement to allow inspections and show the property was unfurnished to demonstrate it really was unoccupied (which I thought fair enough). Then the limit was halved to 6 months (still just about ok for normal lettings and voids between tenancies). Then we were "consulted" as a box-ticking exercise - I remember spending quite a bit of time carefully responding to the question asking if we (or I) agreed that Landlords should contribute more to the costs of helping "the most vulnerable people in society", i.e. pay more tax to the council so they can fritter it away on projects and people that are not our responsibility and have nothing to do with us and we have no say or control over.... obviously nobody actually bothered reading my (or anyone else's) replies because they'd already decided to slash the acceptable 6 months to a totally unacceptable 2 weeks, suddenly costing us literally thousands of pounds a year in unfair, un-budgeted tax (council tax) between every single tenancy, and also taxing us while we renovated and improved properties for tenants (another disincentive to invest).... then after a very short period the by then trivial and insulting 2-weeks "exemption" was abolished altogether and suddenly (this time without token/fake "consultation") we found ourselves being forced to pay c/tax for empty properties the moment a tenant moved out.... ...and it's quietly getting worse.... there is a sneaky c/tax provision that most landlords are unaware of.... if a property was empty for 2 years or more the council could charge a 50% SURCHARGE council tax "to encourage the return of the property to occupation" (obviously in reality they love having the property empty because they don't have to provide any services, such as refuse collection or anything for people as there is nobody there, but they get 50% more revenue for absolutely nothing at all).... then they halved THAT to 1 year.... just wait for the 1 year to be abolished and we will all find ourselves paying a 50% surcharge (extra) for council tax the day a tenant moves out, to "encourage" us to re-let the property, as if we weren't already trying to do that to earn rent and pay our loan costs (that for many people are already no longer allowable as the legitimate pre-tax business expenses that they jolly-well should be)! ....and by the way.... to increase the "encouragement" they are planning, I'm told, to double the surcharge council tax currently supposed to be for "long term unoccupied properties", but in the end no doubt for any unoccupied properties. when that happens we'll find ourselves being fleeced to pay DOUBLE council tax for empty unoccupied properties we're already trying to re-let, and double council tax for every day spent repairing or renewing a property to keep it in good condition. I'd say that's a DISCOURAGEMENT (not encouragement) to maintain property and/or even remain in business. Please continue to keep a close eye on all these abolitions of our essential allowances, scope creep of all taxes both for local and central government, and legislation attacks on us endlessly increasing our costs and risks, and undermining our rights, often simply to provide what the politicians believe will be handy temporary headline grabbing and vote winning gimmicks (that inevitably fail to deliver anything except more damage to our increasingly beleaguered sector).

From: Barry X 01 November 2018 13:25 PM

Barry X
Sorry Sue - this seems like a very naive comment to me.... have YOU ever succeeded in regaining possession via a s.8? You'll find it's not even valid to APPLY, i.e. START the process, until there is a minimum of 2 months rental arrears (if that's the sub-section of s.8 you're relying on). and then you'll need to wait for a hearing (depending on where you are in the country that could be weeks or even months), THEN you'll probably find the judge or magistrate is sympathetic to the tenants and decides they can't be made "homeless" and have just been "silly" or "unlucky" so instead of granting you the possession order (which is NOT mandatory but discretionary) decides they can have another few months, or even a year, to "try and catch up" and that will be that. All other sub-sections are for various breaches of the tenancy agreement and are very hard to prove to the satisfaction of a judge, even if glaringly obviously blatant and appalling.... The ONLY safe option for a landlord is a MANDATORY and NO-FAULT (i.e. nothing needs to be proven beyond any doubt) method for recovery of a property. The s.21 is ridiculously slow, long-winded and problematic enough as it is and then has been undermined and under attack on top of that. Even so it is the landlord's only safety net and ultimate sanction. Without it the whole private rental sector will be plunged back into the dreadful dark-old days of a 1950s-type regime. Rental properties (and the portfolios made from them) will collapse in value and finance for "buy-to-let" will vanish quite literally overnight, never to be seen again unless a new 1988-like Act is somehow brought into being. PS. you also seem mistaken about the mechanisms: if you apply for the so-called "accelerated" process under s.8 then you are not also able to recover rental arrears, if you don't apply for it then it's an even slower and more cumbersome process that is very likely to end in failure for the landlord and a wind-fall for the nearly always favoured tenant.

From: Barry X 29 August 2018 16:37 PM

Barry X

From: Barry X 25 July 2018 12:22 PM

Barry X
Good idea to "scrap the section 21"..... while they're at it why not improve things further by abolishing rent as well? Instead the LANDLORD could be made to PAY THE TENANT FOR LIVING IN THE PROPERTY! Better still, not just pay the tenant instead of the boring, outdated traditional idea of charging them rent, but pay all card carrying members of the Labour party a little more to reward them for their allegiance to that noble institution. Joking aside, I'm not surprised at their ignorance in demanding an end to any sort of "no fault evictions". The s.21 has been under threat for sometime now, and already been significantly undermined. If the government were to even seriously consider - let alone actually implement - an end to the s.21 with nothing comparable (or preferably better for the landlord) to replace it, then I'm fairly sure we'd immediately serve s.21 notices to ALL of our tenants while we still could, then on gaining possession sell all of those properties for any reasonable price before the property market totally collapses and is plunged into years of slump. We'd then get out of the whole damn mess and start something new in a more sensible country (almost certainly in the Far East, actually). Without the s.21 or its equivalent, we'd be back to how things were before the Property Act 1988 when ALL tenants were in effect "statutory" or "sitting" tenants and properties let to them were worth approximately 1/2 to 1/3 of their open market value (as they still are for most tenancies for any reason outside the AST/SPT regimes). Duh!

From: Barry X 16 July 2018 10:38 AM

Barry X
I posted a long, carefully written comment here about how introducing the s.21 process in the first place in the Housing Act 1988 was what revolutionised the private rental sector but it vanished for some reason when I clicked the "comment" button to send it.... oh well, I can't be bothered to type it all again. Briefly, before the s.21 was possible ALL tenants were in effect "sitting tenants" ("Statutory Tenants") and the properties they lived in were worth typically 1/2 to just 1/3 of their vacant open market value, i.e. what they'd be worth with no tenants living in them who could not be asked to leave. Such properties were virtually un-mortgageable. In recent years the s.21 process has been under increasing threat and steadily undermined a piece at a time (as has the entire private rental sector that to an extent depends on it). If anything, one of the best things the government could do (apart from repealing Osborne's dreadful and damaging 3% surcharge, and reinstating full tax relief for loan interest etc) would be to make it EASIER, not harder/impossible, to regain possession of properties if/when required. Most landlords bought the property to rent it out and if the tenant behaves and pays rent that's all they want. The s.21 is the "safety mechanism" for when there's a problem with the tenant but its too hard to prove or unlikely to succeed as a s.8 eviction, OR if the landlord's financial circumstances or plans change and s/he wishes/needs to sell. It's the landlord's property and the landlord should/MUST be able to regain possession on reasonable notice if/when required. Let's not return to "retro" tenancies based on the hopelessly flawed ideas of 1950s socialists!

From: Barry X 06 July 2018 11:04 AM

Barry X
It's not worth spending time plodding through point-by-point this utterly dishonest, out of touch and financially twisted (ok, plain dishonest) garbage reply. superficially only..... how the hell can taxing landlords on turnover instead of doing it more fairly on profit "benefit first time buyers"? Is the government handing over the money they've nabbed off us (deceitfully) to first time buyers to help them save a deposit or something? Thought not! In what way has the greedy, ill-conceived and over-complicating 3% surcharge SDLT helped first time buyers? In generally not in the slightest, I'm quite sure. Oddly enough, if you think carefully about the implications its probably worked against quite a few who anyhow can't afford to buy right now so still need to rent somewhere to live. Vote Tory - get Labour..... sadly we must accept betrayal from our weak-minded and incompetent government. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that (a) they are hostile to landlords and don't give a damn about the private rental sector - it seems to them we're here to be milked, fleeced and whilst at it blamed too, (b) the government are so bankrupt of useful, popular ideas, and are running so scared that they will be booted out in the next election that they are trying to re-invent themselves as the opposition in the hope of confusing a few "young" voters into backing them instead of the even more disastrous Labour party. It's a shame they don't seem to realise that they'd do so much better if only they showed strong, honest leadership with imaginative, well thought out policies that clearly have a good chance of working and being useful. They should have delivered properly from day-1 on Brexit, and just got on with it, instead of making it almost their full-time job to obstruct and delay it whilst also trying to magic it out of existence. Bunch of incompetent, untrustworthy idiots in my opinion. Still, what do I know?

From: Barry X 30 May 2018 11:54 AM

Barry X
I agree that "regulation creep" and it's ever increasing scope and complexity is a significant risk and threat for landlords. There seem to be a number of thrusts for it, including; (a) central government via HMRC taxing (fleecing, milking and generally exploiting) "sitting duck" residential landlords, and also (b) councils cashing in as much as possible with all sorts of licensing schemes etc that - to a cynic like me - appear to be entirely for collecting revenue ("licence fees") and generally do nothing whatsoever (except now and again for show and cover). And on top of that (c) Both main political parties trying to pander to the masses and pretend they are going to deliver cheap but delightfully modern ("state of the art" even") homes for them to buy "cheaply" or "affordably" and until that day (which won't come for most of them) deliver "cheap" or "affordable" or now "living wage" rental properties, also in tip top condition with all rights in favour of the tenant come what may, and the poor beleaguered landlords and agents totally bolloxed. What fun, what a sure-fire vote winner! "The People" will love it, and luckily few will realise its a pack of hollow un-deliverable promises to pacify them and woo their votes when the time comes and they are needed. The article generously repeats the - I think lie - that "The government have undertaken a range of measures to try and drive up standards in the rental industry" when really it seems to be far more about about winning votes and raising revenues.... if they REALLY cared about "standards" then I'm sure their new laws, rules and regulations would be rather different in focus and vastly better thought through and drafted.

From: Barry X 23 April 2018 12:03 PM

Barry X
The single room, typically at the front and over the hall, in an AVERAGE THREE BEDROOM semi-detached house, typically built in the 1930's, is usually around 2.4 m long and about 2.0 m wide, and therefore 4.8 sq m in total. Apart from the rental properties we have, our own house has such a room. It is (or was!) PERFECTLY NORMAL to have a single bed in such a room used by an adult, or alternatively a bunk bed in the same space used by two children (if of the same sex) right up until their mid teens.... so way above 10 years old and for two of them! Although the main double room is probably more than 10.22 sq m but the other one is quite likely to be something like 3.3 m x 3.0 m and therefore LESS than this arbitrary new "standard"..... so a perfectly normal 3 bedroom house (2x doubles + 1x single) that was built in the 1930s for families (typically up to 5 or even 6 adults back then) and has worked perfectly well for 85 years is now suddenly "unfit" and downgraded to being a 1x double + 1x single room (and the really single room can't be used anymore except for a cot or dog basket or something), for a max of 3 people! PLUS you have to be "licence" and pay for the privilege of being told how you can use your house! Great. By the way, where the hell do these people who make this stuff up get two decimal places from? How on earth can they mandate that a room 10.22 sq m is ok for 2 people over the age of 10 to sleep in but a room 10.21 sq m isn't? And what about if the "room" was a long corridor 1 m wide and 10.22 m long.....(with door at one end and a tiny window at the other)? Would THAT be ok for two adults to sleep in? Obviously it complies PERFECTLY with these utterly brilliant, well thought-out impositions. Genius.

From: Barry X 16 March 2018 14:36 PM

Barry X
It was the s.21 provisions of the 1988 Act that revolutioned the private rental sector and made possible what we have today. Before it EVERYONE renting was, in effect, a statutory or sitting tenant under hopelessly outdated legislation from the 50s and there was no incentive to modernise or even repair properties because rents were controlled so it made no difference, and you couldn't sell the property (except for about 1/3 of its open market value if empty) because it came with a tenant, and if that tenant died or moved out their next of kin were able to take over and carry on..... There's been a lot of legislation creep steadily eroding and undermining the s.21 in recent years, e.g. requirements to prove you've "protected" a security deposit, and also that your tenant hasn't recently grumbled about a maintenance issue - all of which should be irrelevant to the basic principle of who owns the property and if they want/need it back for any reason, e.g. to sell it. These are all SERIOUS THREATS to landlords' rights of property ownership/control and should never be allowed to slip off "the radar".... we should be lobbying relentlessly to educate stake holders and have this reversed, as well as prevent future/further attacks. If you've ever been to a property auction to watch bidding for a house or flat that was respectable looking on the outside, but a bit tatty on the inside, and you thought it would be an easy "project" to do up and turn around, then wondered why so few people were interested and went so cheaply you'd know immediately it was subject to a statutory tenancy of some sort or other and nobody could even get a mortgage for it! Such tenancies sometimes arise accidentally, and when they do they BLIGHT properties and effectively take control and usually most if not all of the equity in them from the owner/landlord.... If he/they could I'm sure Corbyn and his chums would be delighted to do that to ALL of your and our properties (but not his/theirs of course).... From time to time over the last few months I've come across well written well researched articles identifying various stated dreams, proposed policies and aspirations of a future Labour government. These include among other measures; (a) rent controls, (b) minimum 3-year fixed term residential tenancies, (c) land tax to try and force people to develop their land and fleece them while they don't, (d) more annual taxes on people who own BTL properties even in addition to more tax rents received and less allowances, (e) new "exits/sales" tax on disposals of BTL properties to be suddenly rushed in as soon as labour get in power to do the same sort of thing in reverse as the 3% SDLT surcharge for buying a "2nd home" so sellers would have to pay it too. Note this would be a tax on the sale price and would be IN ADDITION TO CGT that would still apply for the "profit" (a sour "haha" as that's really a tax mainly on inflation for those that understand, often reversing/negating real-terms profit if any), (f) increasing the 3% SDLT surcharge and maybe adding more rules and making it a bigger mess, (h) more regulation and red-tape to "control" private landlords via registration schemes on a property-by-property basis (with annual charges etc).... and so on and so on.... Maybe none of this will happen, but if even one or two of those measures, let alone all of them, slip quietly into force/place then, boy will both markets (sales as well as rental) and our businesses depending on it take a long-term hit! Of course the treacherous and increasingly desperate Tories (that I used to trust, but that was long ago) will adopt any, and as many, Labour policies they feel like in order to appeal to the young and/or stupid and hang on to a few votes or alternatively take a few new ones dangling as "low hanging fruit" they shouldn't be interested in. There's a famous Irish joke (I first heard years ago from a close Irish friend before an PC-fool complains).... when asked for directions to somewhere the solemn answer is "well, if I wanted to go there I wouldn't start from here....". Right now my advice is that if you'd like to invest in property then forget about the Uk entirely, go back 10-15 years in time, sell everything and pay the much lighter exit taxes applying in those happier days, then head for the Far East and put all your money and efforts into top quality new-builds in any one of the exciting and wonderful booming cities out there such as Bangkok, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, obviously HK could be on the list and many other places too. The food's better, the people are generally fantastic, there's none of the absurd UK planning neurosis, and of course red tape and tax and all the rest are massively in your favour in stead of against you and getting worse. No wonder the returns - and life style - are so much better! Sadly, I didn't listen to my wife when she actually predicted and suggested all this at the time and on and off ever since.....! MEANWHILE, stuck and trapped here in the UK as it slides further into oblivion..... I suggest landlords and others with a stake/interest in private rental property GET TOGETHER, GET ACTIVE and start to MAKE A STAND before it's even later and worse and harder to reverse even more of the same we're heading for.....

From: Barry X 28 December 2017 10:49 AM

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