A well-known antipoverty campaigner has written a very controversial post on his blog regarding coronavirus and private rental accommodation. The gentleman has a history of controversial policies with regards to antipoverty but this one takes his previous attempts at controversy to a whole different level. So, how might landlords be expected to cover the cost of the coronavirus?
Infected tenants should have rent free accommodation
While there is no doubt that the coronavirus will have a major impact upon the UK and the worldwide economy, is the government not the supposed support of last resort? This controversial post suggests that private landlords should give tenants who catch coronavirus at least three months of rent free accommodation. The suggestion that yet again landlords are but vehicles for the private rental sector surely misses the struggles and strains of private landlords?
Why should tenants have rent free accommodation?
It was suggested that tenants should have a statutory right to 3 months of rent free accommodation in the event that they are unable to cover their monthly rent. Indeed the controversial campaigner believes this should happen as a matter of course without any application or review. Before we look further into this puzzling suggestion, is there not potential for abuse of such a system?
While private landlords have been subjected to significant tax and regulatory changes in recent years, with many now leaving the sector, this latest suggestion is just bizarre. The reason why private landlords should bear the brunt of the cost?
Assets will remain whatever happens to landlords
To quote from the blog post:-
“I am quite deliberately suggesting that they (landlords) should bear the heaviest burden of dealing with the epidemic. The reason is simple and is that whatever happens they will still have an asset at the end of the day, and no other sector can guarantee that at present”
He also goes on to justify his stance:-
“As a consequence they have the greatest capacity to bear the cost. And, if it so happens that some landlords do fail as a consequence, the assets that they have owned will still exist after this failure and so the economy can manage the consequences of this.”
There is no acknowledgement of the huge investment from buy to let investors, no mention of the ever increasing tax burden or the higher and higher regulatory bar. There is no consideration about the individual landlord’s personal finances amid a suggestion that all landlords are “rich”. He also goes on to suggest that private banks should also foot the bill of the potentially huge consequences from the coronavirus.
Again, no acknowledgement of pension funds invested in private banks and other financial institutions. Not even the merest suggestion of a potential financial/housing crisis if bank balance sheets were decimated and private landlords bankrupted.
It is difficult not to get political when such wild suggestions as those detailed above are given serious airtime. The UK property market is one of the most heavily taxed in the world, there is little evidence of property tax income being reinvested into this area and indeed flood protections across the UK appear woefully inadequate. It seems that no subject is off-limits when it comes to the constant and often brutal attacks on the property market and the very foundations of capitalism.