I am proud to be a landlord. I consider it a privilege to touch and improve peoples' lives by helping them into good quality accommodation.
But today I don't feel so proud. Earlier this week, my attention was drawn to a Channel 4 News report on private landlords.
The programme highlighted poor quality accommodation, sky high rents, questionable rental practices, evictions and so on.
Further depressing news followed with the revelations of the 'English Housing Survey 2012/2013' which said that for the first time since records began, there are more tenants in private sector rented housing than in social housing (also that the number of owner occupiers was at its lowest for a decade).
As I indicated earlier, being a landlord is a calling and a genuine privilege. I and most of my team grew up in council housing and recognise the importance of a secure, well maintained home at a rent that our families could afford.
Good quality, well maintained housing with the security of a standard assured tenancy meant that tenants like ourselves were able to put down permanent roots. As a landlord today I'm happy to say that many of our tenants have been with us for more than 10 years, which paints a very different picture to the transient, rootless existence detailed by C4 News.
Our rental policy is to index link rents against consumer prices, irrespective of market rents going up like a high speed lift. We have never evicted a tenant who has arrears arising from hardship and I recall many occasions where we have stepped in with practical support.
We have had tenants flooded out in Carlisle; paying for temporary accommodation while their homes dried out; we even had one incident of a transit van driven through the front of a house in Oldham for which we made similar arrangements for the tenant.
The essential point is that we are not alone in setting and meeting these high standards, the majority of landlords do so in some way.
They like me must be sickened by the caricaturing of our profession as a shabby old lot who see providing housing as a cash cow with the tenants merely part of their business plan.
Nevertheless, C4 has written its headlines and reputable private landlords must now respond. There are a range of measures which can provide immediate help, principally in the form of much tighter and tougher legislation.
In the very short term this should include measures designed to protect tenure. Meanwhile there is a very strong argument that proposals made in the House of Lords recently for the creation of five year index-linked tenancies should be adopted.
In the medium term a proper registration scheme, with teeth and with the appropriate resources behind it so that the required quality standards are enforced must be put in place. The good landlords will have no complaint and in fact will welcome such measures.
It is my hope that the next General Election could in some way be fought on the issue of rents; quality of housing and security of tenure. With the increased reliance on the private landlord sector highlighted in the English Housing Survey, this will be an issue that affects a growing number of citizens. It's about time they had their say.
Then perhaps I can be proud to be a landlord again.Suggest a correction