Property Investing - Is it moral/ethical

(Yolande Mirza) #1

I am looking into starting out to be a property investor. I will be owning properties and renting them out on a Buy-To-Let or Houses-of-Multiple-Occupation, as well as looking at Serviced Accommodation.
Some people view landlords as being unethical, because everyone should really be owning a house. There is a housing shortage though, so it could be seen as helping people with accommodation? I am not sure where to do the right research for this. I don’t intend to exploit people, and was thinking of even giving my tenants a bit of a reduced rent, to help them save for buying their own home one day. Different countries have different views on this, but I think I just want the biblical business view. Can anyone advise?

(SeanO) #2

@YolandeMirza I do not think the Bible addresses this issue directly, in which case you would need to consider what it would look like to love God and love neighbor if you were to rent out properties. I’m not sure what the “right” answer is, but what do you think about these recommendations from an article in the Guardian? This may be one situation where we can learn something from the wisdom within our culture on this issue. The OT laws regarding the year of Jubilee and returning property were within the context of a theocracy and God’s covenant with Israel, so I do not think they directly apply.

Do you think these suggestions are Biblical? Do you think a Biblical ethic would go beyond these suggestions? Do these suggestions help you process your question?

May Jesus grant you wisdom in this matter :slight_smile:

  • be there for tenants on benefits
  • let for the long term
  • keep fees down
  • choose your property carefully (and look after it)

(Yolande Mirza) #3

Thank you for your answer-
I agree with all 4 points. I was thinking for example to give my tenants 10% discount from market related rent, in order to help them save towards owning or just not overcharging them. That should help them, and also ensure always having tenants potentially, as it’s an incentive to stay.
I am not sure whether people who find this immoral, confuse this with maybe a government who doesn’t allow for enough housing to be built, and now landlords are being blamed? Is it immoral to make profit off someone, while helping them as well by providing accommodation? Or is it because landlords have bought up all the properties? I don’t know…

(Micah Bush) #4

I think it’s also worth considering that in our current world, home ownership simply isn’t practical for all people, especially those whose geographic stability is limited (ex. students, young workers, or people whose careers require frequent relocation); for such people, there is a genuine need for landlords who are intentional about being kind and ethical in their dealings, and I see nothing wrong with seeking to fill that need. I suppose the rationale behind finding such business unethical (besides knowing of landowners whose ethics were questionable at best) is that people who can afford to own multiple properties can also afford to outbid others and invest in their properties, thereby reducing the supply and keeping property values high.

(SeanO) #5

I think @MicahB has a good point - the reality is that not everyone is going to make enough to afford their own home. And those people need places to live as well.

I imagine that in each nation / city / neighborhood the story is a bit different. So what is ethical might look different depending on the history of that neighborhood and the current state of things. We should not knowingly participate in systems that bolster injustice and understanding the history of a location is probably part of avoiding doing so? Maybe part of being an ethical landlord is to know the neighborhood before buying a property and understanding (at least on some level) what impact the purchase will have? I imagine in some cases the impact could be very beneficial, in others somewhat neutral and in others detrimental.

(Matt Western) #6

on the flip side of this, consider what would happen if there were no Christian property investors in the industry at all.

Just because some doctors are unethical, support abortion or euthanasia, we don’t tend to ask should a Christian become a doctor. I see property investing just as another occupation - the only occupations I would not work in is one directly and clearly against Scripture (adult industry, gambling, tobacco, drugs).

I think the more Christian property investors the better, to provide ‘salt and light’ to the industry, in the same way that more workers that are involved in the new industries such as Artificial Intelligence (as John Lennox talks about) the better that industry is, because there are people with a Christian worldview working there, making wise moral choices and that can effect positively for Christ in an indirect way.

If a person has been given a talent or skill from God to be able to manage money wisely and can be a good steward of skills and money, and avoid the pitfalls (love of money, making sure to give anonymously for a reward from God and not from man (Matthew 6:3) , and in 1 Timothy 6:9-10 there is the warning about those that desire to be rich will pierce themselves through with many sorrows and possibly stray from the faith) - i see this as a good thing.

just my 2 cents worth - won’t make much of a property deposit. :slight_smile:

(Yolande Mirza) #7

What a refreshing view, thank you. I do like your thoughts. We live in this world, but not of it. I think that people should in general really have the opportunity to own their own homes at some point- landlords and investors affect this, but equally the government making it impossible to easily get a mortgage. Apart from being ethical, I can also be a game changer, or a disruptor to the system in some way later when I am more experienced in the property investing world. Y

(LaTricia J.) #8

@YolandeMirza, I would like to know why is it you say everyone should be owning a house?

And to the rest, how people move in business is more reflective of what’s in their heart. I have known some really kind and generous property owners as well as property managers; and I have known some that are greedy and couldn’t care any less about the tenants.

(Andrea L) #9

As a tenant, who seemingly cannot get our own property here in our new country without a miracle of God, I disagree with this view. That sounds like socialism for me… and my country of origin had 40 year or so of it. All we can do is trust God, He will provide opportunity when it will be the time for us to have our own. But He is the only one to know when and where - as He brought us accross the Earth only He knows whether we are supposed to be moving again, where and when.

From a financial perspective, owning even our own property includes investment risks. We buy it for whatever amount of money, many times it includes mortgage, and we have no idea how much it would be worth when the time comes to sell it. If we buy on the top and need to sell at the bottom of the market collapse… that would be a huge loss. And that scenario is not an impossible one. And there might be numerous reasons which would require us to sell it, not all of them comes with us deciding when and for how much.

Regarding our current situation, we are endlessly grateful that God has provided us a place with incredible landlord & landlady. They are literally God’s blessing for us. Our Lord prepared the way for us as He moved us here - including our place, which was the only house we checked when we arrived, and still renting it, for long years now. So please don’t feel discouraged by those words, God can use you as a landlord to build his Kingdom :slight_smile:

(Yolande Mirza) #10

Hi there, yes maybe I combined two separate issues!:slight_smile: Well, I guess I just always have had a preference for ownership, because it makes one feel safe and secure. When I rented in Oxford for 5 years, I had to move every year, because the landlord only did year contracts and then always had some other plan. I hated all the moving and never being able to just be. Your email give a fresh perspective as well, thank you. Yolande

(Kathleen) #11

@YolandeMirza If you plan on being an ‘ethical landlord’ in Oxford, do send me a PM. We need more of those around here! :grin:

(Yolande Mirza) #12

Will do! I’ll drive prices down, and work the moguls out…:slight_smile: Y

(Andy Weigel) #13

I’ve been a landlord for my 30+ year career. With the kingdom mindset. There are many good resources, but the best or at least first I would recommend you read is Wayne Gruden‘s book business for the glory of God. It identifies and articulates The fundamental principles of how business is God’s answer for flourishing culture. Business for the Glory of God: The Bible’s Teaching on the Moral Goodness of Business

(Yolande Mirza) #14

Hi Andy, Thanks I will have a look. I also have a book called “Business secrets from the bible”. Y