The principle of Quid Pro Quo goes back in time to before human beings walked the face of the planet.
For those of us without the benefit of a classical education, the phrase itself is Latin in origin and literally translates as “Something for something.”
We see this principle in action every time a wad of greasy plastic fivers is handed over in exchange for goods and services. It’s in play when a pound coin slides into a vending machine slot and an ice cold can of coke slams into the dispensing tray. Even in the blizzard-licked wild of the antarctic, a well-wrapped observer can witness female penguins allowing their male counterparts no-strings intimate access to their bodies in exchange for rocks with which to build their nests.
Exchange is the foundation and bedrock of civilisation. Anything else is either theft or charity.
Even most taxes which you are forced to pay go towards the education and infrastructure from which everybody ultimately benefits.
In this light, recent demands by the government on landlords cannot be seen as anything other than unreasonable and unacceptable.
Not the new rules requiring properties to be safe, well-maintained, and occasionally inspected. They are, in our opinion, both reasonable and sensible.
The upcoming requirement for three year minimum tenancies is a different matter. It has the potential to cause landlords a great deal of financial damage over a long period, and leave them with fewer options to get shot of troublesome tenants. It has the potential to cost the private rental sector… a lot.
And what has the PRS been offered in return? Where is the Quid Pro Quo?
So far, we’ve seen nothing on the table. Not a metaphorical morsel which would allow either side to at least pretend there has been an exchange.
But, the Residential Landlords Association, which describes itself as”the leading voice for landlords in England & Wales,” has come up with a plan – something a little less one-sided, and which offers carrots rather than sticks.
If the government wants longer tenancies, the 30,000 strong association reasons, why not give landlords tax breaks in return.
And that, in essence, is it. For each year a tenant remains in a property, the tax relief on rental income will increase, up to a maximum of five years.
The proposal document cites an un-named government advisor as saying that changes of this type, “could be quicker to implement” that imposing a standard three year minimum, but that’s hardly a ringing endorsement.
The RLA has also suggested allowing, “landlords to reclaim the 3% additional Stamp Duty Land Tax where they purchase a property from another landlord and retain the sitting tenants.” – presumably as an incentive to not kick the existing tenants onto the street, and making work carried out for an EPC tax deductible.
These seem on the surface, to be eminently sensible proposals. But only if landlords are happy to get on board this voluntary scheme.
To get an idea of whether or not this is likely, rent.works headed over to the comments section of another property website which summarised the RLA document. At the time of writing, there were four comments. Here they are in full:
“no thanx–6 months plus roll on as apt is all i want”
“no not tax relief, just a simple quick way to get non paying tenants out.”
“In my experience most tenants do not want to be tied to a 3 year tenancy either. They like the flexibility of being able to move on when they want to. I have a tenant who said initially they only wanted the property for 18 months and they are still there over 7 years later. Good tenants will always be able to stay long term with a periodic tenancy as no landlord will evict if the rent is being paid and the property is being looked after”
“It’s the tenants that leave anyway not the landlords putting notice in as shown by RLA figures only 11% of tenancies ended by landlords and that includes the bad ones ! So in reality probably close to near zero ended by landlords without reason .. government know this but it’s nothing more than campaigning for generation rent votes as usual”
Intentional self-deception is a terrible thing. And blind self interest gets you a worse alternative.