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PRS demands greater respect from government

by: Bob Young
  • 07/03/2013
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PRS demands greater respect from government
Despite the buoyancy of the buy-to-let market at present and notwithstanding the great strides that have been made by all in the sector to increase the professionalism of those that operate in it, the private rented sector is still viewed with a suspicious gaze from some quarters.

Whether it’s first-time buyers gnashing their teeth that property investors are snapping up all the homes that should be their divine right to purchase (despite simultaneously renting their existing abode from said landlords) or the government’s metamorphosing attitude to the sector, it’s not hard to see why our corner of the industry unfairly gets a bad rep at times.

Take the national housing shortage as a case in point. Despite there being a distinct lack of long-term strategy from successive governments, the private rental sector is expected to just automatically take up the slack while other areas of the market are artificially stimulated through various initiatives and schemes.

Don’t get me wrong – landlords are obviously happy to help bridge this gap and it is what makes them their money, but there doesn’t have to be such an ‘unwelcome visitor’ vibe about the whole dynamic. I know a number of my counterparts feel that measures such as selling off local authority homes are sweating the small stuff while missing the bigger picture and I’m inclined to agree.

To a degree, the private rented sector may currently be benefitting from the supply constraints which have exacerbated demand, but this doesn’t mean that it – and the nation as a whole – wouldn’t gain in the long run from a clear thought-out plan to up construction levels and really tackle the shortfall.

The public perception may also be somewhat impaired by the fact that buy-to-let mortgages aren’t regulated in the same way that residential home loans are, but as far as I’m concerned this is merely a matter of semantics.

Leaving aside the fact that most buy-to-let lenders offer owner-occupier mortgages as well and apply the same processes across the board, those operating solely in buy-to-let rigorously self-police themselves and the sector as a whole has come on in leaps and bounds in the last decade or so.

While those within the mortgage industry acknowledge its importance and pragmatic members of the public can see the valuable service it provides in housing those unable or unwilling to purchase their own homes, there will always be naysayers attempting to pick holes.

I think we have a great industry that we can all be proud of and if we continue in the same vein the dissenting voices will be reduced to barely a whisper.

Bob Young is managing director of CHL Mortgages

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