Soho, London. Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Rich landlords join forces to lobby UK government

Tycoons, property dynasties and moneyed investors have joined forces to found what must be Britain’s most unlikely trade union.

The collective, called the Landlords Union, wants the government to change tack on its rescue plan for the high street and the broader private sector. The group of 30 property investors say that tenants have been given carte blanche to withhold rents, choking off their main source of income. The high-net-worth property investors say that in effect they have been asked to provide a financial backstop for huge swathes of the economy.

Theirs is a motley group that spans some of the most colourful characters in the property world and scions of notorious City figures. The collective includes a former glamour model, and the grandson of a financier at the heart of Britain’s most notorious insider trading scandal.

The union’s main gripe is legislation enacted last month that bars landlords from using “aggressive tactics” to collect rent. It includes banning them from issuing statutory demands and winding-up orders on tenants struggling to pay bills because of Covid-19. It comes after the introduction of a three-month moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent. Landlords complain that “unscrupulous” well-capitalised businesses are using the legislation as a “licence to not pay rent”.

“We think the government has opened the door to nationalising rent and has used landlords to underpin the cost of the commercial property support for tenants,” said Adam Coffer, 41, an investor in retail and leisure properties who is the Len McCluskey of the group. “The vast majority of landlords want to help those tenants who so desperately need it . . . but the government’s moratorium has allowed certain unscrupulous tenants to undermine this.”

The union’s roster is a Who’s Who of London’s commercial property sector. They could not describe themselves as brassic. Laurence Kirschel, 57, is a member. He’s worth an estimated £339 million and is best known for helping to regenerate Soho…

… visit The Times to read full story

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