Past performance is no indicator of future results

Steve Cox Fleet

“It seems somewhat staggering to me policies are still being pushed that would unequivocally cause supply to fall, at a time when we have seen the PRS reaching crisis point in many areas of the country.”

What would normally be the jewel in the footballing crown has just got underway, and for all the excitement that undoubtedly accompanies this (normally) wonderful jamboree, you can’t help feel the 2022 version feels all kinds of wrong.

Just how wrong remains to be seen, and perhaps we’ll all simply immerse ourselves in the football and enjoy it for what it is. However, it’s hard to do so, when there are so many other things at play right now in the world.

So, how do I feel about England’s prospects? Well a lot better after that first game however still slightly uncertain about what might happen, but confident in the fundamentals and the ‘players’, and certainly positive based on the Iran game and recent ‘tournament’ history that we have strong foundations on which success can be built upon. We definitely need the ‘manager’ to get it right though.

That said, anyone who has followed England for any length of time will know that when it comes to tournaments ‘past performance is no indicator of future results’ and there will be a part of every English fan hoping that this is not one where expectation dashes on the shore of reality. Especially if it is Wales doing the dashing. I’m fully expecting not to hear the last of it from Welsh friends and colleagues if that comes to pass.

However, I am confident that Group glory at the very least will be ours and after that, well, who knows. Whatever happens, I’m hoping England are slightly more consistent at the World Cup than my beloved Palace have been lately.

Might it have all felt so much different though. For a start, in any normal year, the whole tournament would have been done and dusted in the summer, and there appear to have been a series of mistakes by those in charge – FIFA – in terms of ‘gifting’ the World Cup to Qatar in the first place, and bending itself completely out of shape to try and justify that woeful decision.

If it all sounds slightly familiar to those of us active in the buy-to-let market then that’s because it is. Again, those in charge getting the fundamental decisions wrong resulting in series of ‘unfortunate events’ and ‘unforeseen circumstances’ which were predicted by everyone who works in the sector affected, but not listened to by those making the decisions.

Even recently, I saw the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, putting forward his ‘idea’ that rents should be frozen right across the Capital, and failing to understand the impact this would have on supply, or indeed failing to recognise just why supply issues currently exist to such an extent in the private rental sector.

A brief history of increased stamp duty costs and the reduction in mortgage interest tax relief coupled with more up to date cost burdens around licensing, energy efficiency and most recently the increased cost of mortgages, mean that landlords are having to make hard decisions around which properties will continue to wash their face from a profit point of view, and those that will not.

Rather than placing even more burdens on private landlords which only work to drive them out of the sector in even bigger numbers, we should be looking at ways to encourage landlords to – in the first instance – stay invested and – in the second – to try and add to portfolios which can help provide more supply to the vast numbers of renters looking for properties.

It seems somewhat staggering to me policies are still being pushed that would unequivocally cause supply to fall, at a time when we have seen the PRS reaching crisis point in many areas of the country. Go to places like Edinburgh or Durham, or indeed any University town or city, and ask student tenants there whether they’d like to see even more supply taken off the market. I can guess what the answer will be.

There might be a ‘fantasy’ element to much of the political approach of the last decade which has focused on so-called ‘greedy landlords’. It might stem from a belief that the private rental sector is better off in the hands of corporate landlords, however given the reliance on the PRS and the huge number of tenants it provides homes for, this attempted wholesale change was never going to be realistic. Corporates simply can’t fill the whole that is being already left by landlords.

This policy has ultimately damaged those it purported to help – tenants and, if it continues, will leave many more facing a grim housing reality. The simple fact of the matter is that they have spent a decade trying to move homes out of landlords’ hands and the results of those policies are there for all to see right now.

Is it too late to be rectified? It will certainly take some time. How many ‘years of hurt’ will tenants have to put up with before we can get the much-needed supply required? 30 years? More? It depends how long it takes to get recognition of just how important the PRS is.

Until then landlords will continue to be treated like England managers of yesteryear. It has become something of an Impossible Job.

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