Landlords prosper through Merlin's failure

Landlords prosper through Merlin's failure


The latest lending statistics have confirmed the predictions of many industry professionals who expected project Merlin to fail from the outset. Simultaneously though Landlords are delighting in the fact that demand for rentals is soaring.

The figures, distributed by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), showed £47.3 billion in overall business lending during the first quarter from the banks participating in the Merlin agreement – Barclays, RBS, Santander, Lloyds Banking Group and HSBC.

In its reports, the BBA called the figures ‘encouraging’, however, the Daily Mail reported the finer details of what was actually delivered to each sector.

For example the pledged support of £19 billion to SMEs was far from being realised.

The deficit stood at a staggering £25 million each day, including weekends, over the quarter, with SMEs receiving just £16.8 billion.

Rob Lankey, Managing Director of Commercial Mortgages at Aldermore, said: “It has to be a concern that the big banks have already fallen behind in meeting their commitment to lend more to small business under the terms of Project Merlin.

“We at Aldermore also think there is more the government could do to ensure that companies to whom they outsource work pay their sub-contractors, who are frequently small and medium sized businesses, in a timely fashion. There is a lot of talk about supporting SMEs, but I still hear an awful lot of anecdotal evidence that the benefits are not passing through to those companies that need the most help.”

In addition to highlighting the shortfalls of project Merlin, the latest BBA statistics also portrayed the stagnancy of the UK property market, with the numbers showing that mortgage approvals for people buying a new home and switching to a new deal fell by 6 per cent in April - The number of mortgages approved for house purchases stood at 29,355, nearly a fifth lower than in April 2010.

David Brown, commercial director of LSL Property Services, said:“Mortgage approvals have fallen in number and in size over the last year and this is fundamental to the UK’s property market. Lending is constrained for anyone with a modest deposit and this is keeping purchase prices down. Property transactions last month were at their lowest April level since 1995 and this was driven by the difficulty of obtaining mortgage finance for house purchases.”

He added though that the dramatic fall in mortgage approvals when comparing the rates to 2010 were ‘exaggerated’, as the succession of short working weeks that were experienced as a result of the bank holidays meant that activity was ‘artificially subdued’.

“While the picture is hardly rosy, it’s not as bleak as it seems at first glance,” he said.

When taking a birds-eye view of the UK’s business lending based on the first quarter’s figures, the outlook for first time buyers, small businesses, and indeed the economy as a whole, looks bleak.

It seems that the only individuals benefitting from the predicament are the landlords.

Jonathan Moore, director of, said: “As the private rental sector groans under strain of the influx of frustrated buyers, demand for rental accommodation has become so strong that the average cost of renting a room is now more than £400 per month – a 6% rise in the last year alone. But the pressure on rented accommodation won’t ease until lenders up their commitment to new lending, and provide first-time buyers with the help they need to buy their first home.”

David Brown added: “This has been great news for landlords, who are currently enjoying record high rents as those unable to make a purchase are forced to remain in the private rental sector, where the limited supply of accommodation and the sharp increase in demand over the last year have boosted rental prices. Slow mortgage lending is at the heart of the current trends in the property market.”

By Katie-Jill Rowland

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