Baroness Altman, a leading Conservative peer and former pensions minister under David Cameron, has attacked her own party for its treatment of landlords during the Covid crisis, describing it as being very ‘un-Conservative’.
Altmann, a respected economist who has also enjoyed a high-flying career in the City, is best known for her role in the campaign to win compensation for Equitable Life policy holders.
In a column written for The Telegraph, she says landlords – and particularly those who rely on properties for a retirement income – are deeply disappointed that a Tory government does not recognise their pain as increasing numbers of tenants stop paying their rent.
Her column highlights how landlords with non-paying tenants face an average bill of £15,000 and that many will have to wait for up to two years to regain possession under the current Covid evictions ban.
“This is not what one would expect from a Conservative government,” she says.
“Of course, some landlords have treated tenants shamefully in the past, but the majority are ordinary people who behave responsibly. “Unfortunately, some tenants behave dreadfully but are being allowed to take unfair advantage while their landlords have been rendered powerless to protect their own interests.
“The Government is asking landlords to subsidise their tenants – effectively taking on the role of providing a housing benefit that normally would be funded by the state.”
Altman is calling on the government to redress the balance that has tipped to such a significant extent against landlords. She says it must accelerate evictions of tenants who are proved to be serial non-payers, introduce interest-free loans to help tenants pay their rent arrears and provide loans or direct relief to landlords.
“Above all, however, it is time to recognise that most landlords are not heartless corporations, but decent citizens,” she says.
Read Baroness Altman’s piece in full (requires subscription)