Why pay rent if you don’t have to?

That appears to be the rhetoric of tenant pressure groups and the government. But it may as well get extended further: Why pay rent at all?

I mean, what’s more important than a roof over your head?

The narrative is incredulous.

The knee-jerk laws and U-turns are unbelievable.

How landlords are meant to pay for a property when the tenant is not paying rent is laughable. Mortgage holiday? What sort of holiday is it when it destroys your credit rating and adds thousands of pounds and months to your misery of debt?

And what is it with most of this country thinking the UK housing stock is free? Landlords are in a mountain of debt the scale of which no tenant will ever likely understand.

And yet, landlords are expected to foot the bill despite mounting debts.

But if a tenant decides not to pay – even if they’re in receipt of housing benefit – tough luck.

There is fuck all you as the landlord can do.

So why pay rent, if you don’t have to?

That’s the message this government is sending. Oh and by the way, let’s not only extend the eviction ban for another month, let’s also make landlords give tenants six months’ notice to leave and complete a plethora of paperwork with so many twists and turns it looks like a Covid-19 broadcast.

The attitude and last-minute policy changes are sickening.

Never before in my almost two decades of being a landlord have I ever felt so vulnerable. I have become stripped of all powers and any sort of protection, and yet the expectations that I am to provide safe accommodation accumulates with no let up – and potentially no rent. And no way of knowing if I will ever get my money back, or lose everything I put in.

I can only assume tenant groups are planning mass bankruptcies, because this is what this action feels like.

Only this week I’ve had to agree to damp work in a property at a cost of £2,800. I found the whole thing strange. I’ve owned the property for 15 years and have never had damp. Until a new tenant moved in two months ago.

This, to me, seemed a weird coincidence and thus I asked several people to attend to ascertain what was going on. This period of investigating what may be causing the sudden damp patches took a couple of weeks while various persons looked into the matter.

My tenant decided this was not acceptable. They called the council. The council then got heavy about the work. I said, hold on, I’m trying to work out why I’ve suddenly got damp, do you mind if I try and figure out what’s happening?

They didn’t give two flying fucks. All they wanted is a start date of the work and to see the problem solved.

But what if that tenant was not paying rent? What am I meant to do then? How on earth am I meant to pay for such expensive remedial work?

And this is what I find the most frightening about this situation, and it’s going to get worse.

If tenants are not paying their rent, landlords will struggle to pay their mortgages. But if tenants are not paying their rent and landlords are trying to subsidise a tenant’s living costs, how on earth will they be able to ensure the property remains in good condition?

I know these tenant pressure groups want ‘rent debt’ forgiven, but who will forgive a landlord for not complying with housing safety?

Who will a landlord call when the tenant has not paid the rent, but still expects the roof to be fixed? Who will the landlord ask for help when they can’t make ends meet and the property falls into disrepair?

There are no winners in this war. And it is a war that has been created unnecessarily.

Nobody argues whether it’s fair for a supermarket to charge for the food you want to eat, so why are people arguing whether it’s fair for a landlord to charge rent for the property you want to live in?

Perhaps if the Private Rental Sector (PRS) was made up of big companies we wouldn’t be having this debate. Big companies are not so easy to push about and screw over. But most landlords are little people, with no power.

The government have ensured the housing crisis is set to continue and they have hastened the demise of the PRS.

Little landlords have little pockets; people often forget that. Until they see the ‘For Sale’ board outside. Because that ‘For Sale’ sign, well, that’s the last vestige of a landlord’s power.