One in six MPs earn at least £10,000 per year or more from renting out houses, apartments, industrial units or land, NationalWorld can reveal.
While millions of private tenants have struggled with rent throughout the pandemic, an analysis of the register of members’ financial interests has revealed that 111 MPs collectively earned millions in rental income since January 2020.
MPs have up to 16 rental properties
The type of properties and rental income that MPs receive varies widely, from lodgers renting rooms in politician’s main homes to multi-unit apartment buildings and even property in New York.
Paul Howell, the Conservative MP for Tony Blair’s former constituency of Sedgefield in the North East, has 16 properties, the most of any MP.
Other MPs in receipt of rental income include Minister of State at the Department of Levelling up, Housing and Communities, Victoria Atkins, and Labour’s shadow housing minister, Lucy Powell.
Both Bob Blackman, Conservative MP for Harrow East, and Labour’s Florence Eshalomi, the member of Vauxhall, received rental income during the pandemic while sitting on the Housing Select Committee.
Blackman registered six buy-to-let properties in Welwyn Garden city, where the median rent is approximately £950 per month, or £11,400 per year, according to the Valuation Office Agency.
The majority of MP landlords are Conservatives, including the top ten earners through rental income.
The full extent of MPs’ rental earnings is unclear, because of the rules on what must be listed in the register of members’ financial interests.
MPs only have to register ownership of properties worth more than £100,000 and they must only record rental income if they generate £10,000 per year or more. No exact income figures are listed, beyond an indication it exceeds this threshold.
There are also inconsistencies in the way MPs register their rental earnings. Some list multiple properties in one entry with an indication they receive at least £10k – but it is unclear if this is for each property, or collectively.
If each individual property grouped under one entry was worth £10k annual rent, that would mean six MPs take in more than their £80k MP salary through rental income – Conservative MPs Paul Howell, Nick Fletcher, Fiona Bruce, Robert Goodwill, Marco Longhi and Jeremy Hunt.
In reality it is likely that many more MPs earn over 80k per year through rent, because MPs only have to register whether their rental properties generate £10k per year or more.
And one MP, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, has failed to list the specific number of rental properties he owns, instead registering “various let properties in London”.
MP landlords ‘should back measures to raise standards for tenants’
Although the Government did enforce a ban which meant that the vast majority of evictions could not go ahead during the pandemic, campaigners criticised the lack of direct support for private tenants.
Speaking to NationalWorld, Arvind Howarth from the Bristol branch of community union ACORN, said: “We saw MPs repeatedly fail tenants during the pandemic, while offering generous mortgage holidays to homeowners, and now we’re seeing the result - unfair rental arrears for tenants and evictions and homelessness rising.
“A government of landlords is not going to look out for the interests and wellbeing of the 13 million private renters in this country - that’s one in five people who pay a landlord to have a roof over their head.”
Research from housing charity Shelter conducted just before the ban was lifted in May found that 1.8 million private renting adults in England (22%) were worried they would lose or be asked to leave their current home at short notice.
While the Government announced its backing for mortgage holidays, offering many homeowners the option of pausing their mortgage payments, no such provision was put in place for private tenants.
This has led to many renters building up significant arrears, which a number of housing charities have warned will lead to a rise in evictions now the ban has been lifted.
A report published by Citizen’s Advice in January 2021 found that one in three private renters have lost income because of the pandemic, with half a million people behind on their rent as a result.
In February 2021, the Resolution Foundation found that rental arrears were “at least twice the level of arrears observed going into the crisis”.
Director of Generation Rent, Alicia Kennedy, told NationalWorld that if Parliament were ‘truly representative’ then only4% of MPs would be landlords, while a fifth would be private tenants.
She said: “We hope that the landlords who serve in Parliament represent the very best of the sector, properly maintain their properties and wouldn’t dream of evicting tenants who had done nothing wrong.
“They will know as well as anyone that too many landlords treat their tenants appallingly, so should back measures to raise minimum standards that everyone can expect from their landlord.”