Housing law may put off potential buy to let owners

A fixed-odds gambling machine Picture: Daniel Hambury/PA Wire

NEWS COMMENT: A move in the right direction but still not a win for all

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Ed Goncalves and his young son Luis had been through enough without having to wrangle over the right to live in their own home.

Having suffered months of upheaval after donating a kidney to help nine-year-old Luis, Mr Goncalves was looking forward to getting back to life in his Gosport house.

But as we report today, achieving that aim was far from straightforward.

A tenant who had been renting the home stopped paying – and despite being owed nearly £3,000 in arrears, Mr Goncalves was unable to claim the property back to live in.

We know laws are there to protect the tenant, and for every claim like this there will be an unscrupulous landlord who needs to be subject to rigorous legislation to make sure that people cannot be left homeless on a whim.

But in cases like this, it is hard not to feel that the law comes down too firmly in favour of the rights of the tenant – whether or not they are paying the rent that they owe.

It is well documented that we are in the middle of a housing crisis, with councils often unable to afford to build more homes due to budget cuts and families unable to afford to buy their own properties.

The result is many, many more families who would take advantage of a rental agreement if it was on offer – and a potential opportunity for people who own spare properties and wish to rent them to supplement their income rather than leave them lying empty.

It’s a fair bet that there are people with the capital to be able to invest in the buy-to-let market who may feel that the potential problems are significant enough to put them off.

In the same way that every family has the right to be secure in the home they have called their own, landlords should have the right to seek swift redress if there is a problem with getting what they are owed for the service they are providing.

As the housing ladder becomes more difficult to get on, let alone climb, there have to be ways of finding a system that is fair on both sides. Perhaps it is time for a review.