Local Student Landlord Fed Up
Long standing PDPLA Committee Member Joan Goldenberg had this published in 'The News' (Portsmouth local paper) this month:
I am fed up listening to what awful people we landlords are and in particular the current campaign denigrating student landlords. How landlords have ruined Portsmouth bringing in students to the private residential areas, taken cheap housing away, overcharge and are the cause of traffic problems.
What landlords have actually done is buy dilapidated Victorian Houses, where the original residents made a jolly good profit, updated and improved them, from their own resources, and provided jobs for local businesses and business people and provided housing for students where there was none as the university numbers grew. Local builders, plasterers, painters, electricians, gas and central heating engineers, roofers were all kept busy and owe their living to the influx of landlords improving and providing much needed - but not only student - accommodation. Various industrial units have popped up, servicing the needs of these building trades.
Over charging - compared to the charges for Halls of Residence - I don"t think so. One 2nd year student who pays me £390 pcm bills included was paying £735 for a single room with shared kitchen facilities in Halls - I"m £345 per month cheaper. So, who is overcharging? Many buy to let landlords have 75% mortgages to service. Insurance costs are high because of letting to students. Licensing the property through the Council was a quick £500 per property. We have to supply Gas Certificates and have boilers and appliances serviced annually. Electrical Certificates including all the extras and changes we have to make through continued legislation. Portable Appliance Testing, every portable electric appliance costs to be checked. Mains wired, interlinked fire alarms, carbon monoxide alarms. Means of escape windows. Southern and Portsmouth Water bills, TV License, internet. Energy Performance Certificates. Special door locking systems to meet fire regulations etc. A 2 month void period over the summer where upgrading and refurbishments are done. We are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 49 weeks of the year. We are now subject to Tax changes having to pay 3% extra stamp duty on purchases, tax on our mortgage interest which runs into a considerable sum on a 75% buy to let mortgage and 10% more Capital Gains Tax on any sale. Large corporations do not have these extra expenses - only the buy to let self-employed landlord. So, make no mistake it is not the easy money so many people think.
Local shops, pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, barbers, nail and beauty salons, tattooists, take away"s, corner shops, furniture, bed, carpet, wooden floor suppliers, department stores, white good suppliers, coffee shops, printing shops, letting agents and of course taxi drivers, Gun Wharf and Port Solent all feel the spending power of students and the City has grown into a really great cosmopolitan, vibrant, colourful City where tourist numbers increase year upon year bringing wealth into the City. We must never forget these students are the financial underbelly and backbone of our wonderful, working City.
Portsmouth has hosted the America"s Cup and the Music Festival both of which have brought £m"s into the City. The current progressive City Council are building on these successes and trying to procure other projects to enrich and enhance the City even further. We need this positive outlook.
What busy City doesn"t have a traffic and parking problem? We are a small island and the second most densely populated City in England - it speaks for itself.
What I hate to hear is the current negative political jargon - pulling on the emotional heart strings of residents -making unkept promises and stirring up prejudice and anger - what for - SO THEY CAN GET BACK INTO POWER - OF COURSE, what other reason is there. Just don"t be fooled, not too much will actually change as we all really know - the University and its students will still be here as will the parking problems.
We should look at what we have achieved and be proud of our dynamic City - where students and tourists want to come because it is a great place to be and has lots to offer and has a really great University. Also consider where would Portsmouth be without the University - it would be a City struggling to survive, living off its naval history, as it would have nothing to offer other than being by the sea - which is the fate of many other seaside towns. I"d rather live in today"s Portsmouth thank you.
Yes students can be noisy, boisterous and thoughtless - that is the youth of today - and that is the youth of every generation. They are away from home for the first time. Parents have not taught them how to do the washing, ironing, cooking, putting the rubbish out or how to change a light bulb. It"s a big learning curve for them, but they have settled down by third year and are quiet and hard working. These tasks are left to the landlord to educate the 'wet behind the ears" 18 year olds.
It is better for the City to keep the small residential landlord who own maybe 2 - 3 - 4 houses - they are by no means millionaires, as you can now see, as many people seem to think - many still have to work, but they make a living and provide much needed accommodation - remember not only to students. What our City doesn"t want is more and more large corporate landlords taking over -setting a precedent and charging exorbitant rents - they will make a huge impact on our City and as we all know "money talks". These are the millionaires not the small landlord. Think hard on what you and the City really want and need. Don"t be side tracked by emotional political rhetoric.
So what have landlords actually done for the City - I think we have made a great contribution to what it is today.