Friday, 12 March 2010

Who needs Landlords?

Better late than never, I have just caught up on the news concerning the Wilsons. A husband and wife team who gave up teaching maths to become landlords in Ashford.  They have a property portfolio of around 700 properties.  The article I read, states they suffered badly during the recession and were only saved from being made bankrupt by Bank of England reducing interest rates. It goes on to say about get rich quick schemes and bad business decisions.  The tone of the article came across as anti Landlords as did most of the comments made by readers.  Yet I saw very little comment made about the number of tenants who failed to pay their rents causing the Wilsons to be in their predicament in the first place or the invaluable role they played in providing accomodation to people who don't own their own homes.

In comparison, my own BTL portfolio is quite small at around 60 properties.  Before the recession I experienced very little rent arrears with only one or two of my tenants being in arrears.  That changed during the recession to 95% of my tenants having rent arrears.  So I can empathise with the Wilsons.  Was it my fault that the recession hit so many of my tenants causing the defaults?  That certainly isn't bad business practice on my part it came down to bad practices from banks causing the worst recession since the 1930's.  The Wilson's didn't create the recession.  They didn't cause their tenants to default on rent payments.  They didn't cause their tenants to lose jobs. They are the victims of the current financial situation caused not by them but by greedy bankers and governments who failed to take action when it was needed. Yes, they benefited from the Bank of England reducing rates but I'm sure that like me they have many lenders who haven't reduced rates but instead continued to put rates up blaming the economy for increases.

In my town the local council advise they have a shortfall of 6000 properties.  My 60 properties are a pittance compared to the actual number of properties needed for homeless families in this area.  I like to think I am providing a service and helping families have a decent home to live in which the local council can't provide.  Across the country it is a similar situation.  Governments and Councils just don't provide sufficient housing to meet demand.

Who needs Landlords?  The whole country does.  Without us there would be far more homeless families.  So give us a break.  We aren't the villans in this country.  We provide a much needed service.  Yes, we make some money out of it.  We also lose a lot of money from tenants non payment of rent and greedy lenders.  We take the risks and we live with the consequences but doesn't that apply to anyone in business?