Property management chief backs Shelter over poor quality homes

by: Mary-Anne Bowring/Landlord Today

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A prominent rental industry figure has backed Shelter’s sweeping condemnation of the lettings sector - but insists landlords are not to blame. Mary-Anne Bowring, group managing director at Ringley - which is a property management and PropTech business - says Shelter’s latest claim about tenants feeling unsafe is largely justified. Shelter says only 51 per cent of private renters in England feel their home has made them safe during the Coronavirus pandemic; some 3m live in poor conditions with electrical hazards, pests or damp-related issues in their home; and 3.6m say they pay too much for the quality of home they have.

Ringley agrees, saying: "The UK has some of the oldest housing stock in Europe, especially in the private rented sector, where the majority of homes are converted flats rather than purpose-built, so it comes as no surprise that three million renters report to be living in poor conditions.  "Fundamentally, this research is a damning indictment of our collective failure to build enough new homes of all types and tenures over the past few decades.

“However, it is important not to demonise landlords, many of whom have worked closely with their tenants during the pandemic and lockdown to reassure them about the security of their tenancy despite facing considerable financial uncertainty themselves. “The government cannot expect buy to let investors to subsidise renters indefinitely and are now facing higher loan repayments as loan repayment holidays did not extend the term but increased the cost. We need to see firmer and greater action than what the Chancellor has announced when it comes to supporting households monetarily.” Meanwhile Shelter’s claims have received a more guarded response from the Local Government Association, which says it’s too early to draw conclusions on how Coronavirus has affected the PRS.

David Renard, Local Government Association housing spokesperson, says: “While the impact of COVID-19 on the private rented sector is yet to be seen, what is clear is the desperate need for the country to build more social housing. “With more than one million households on council housing waiting lists, the Spending Review needs to give councils the powers and tools to get building council homes again, which would not only help to meet the government’s annual 300,000 housing target, but reduce homelessness, get rough sleepers off the streets and support people’s wellbeing.”

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