OPINION: It’s time for Shelter to stop painting all landlords as ‘abusive’ and ‘flouting the law’

Private sector landlords are growing increasingly exasperated by the combative tone of Shelter’s campaigning in recent months. ©1999 - Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® - OPINION: It’s time for Shelter to stop painting all landlords as ‘abusive’ and ‘flouting the law’ | LandlordZONE.

OPINION: It’s time for Shelter to stop painting all landlords as ‘abusive’ and ‘flouting the law’

Private sector landlords are growing increasingly exasperated by the combative tone of Shelter’s campaigning in recent months.

Earlier this month the organisation hit attack-dog mode publishing research that claimed 45% of landlords have been involved in ‘illegal’ activity ranging from administrative errors to physical violence.

Shelter is singing the same old song; private landlords are bad and irresponsible.

The only difference between it and successive governments is that Ministers want to move tenants from the private rented sector (PRS) into the build-to-rent market, while Shelter believes the answer is to build more affordable social housing.

But otherwise, the government and Shelter are closely linked, much more so than most landlords probably realise.

Founded in 1966 to be a voice for tenants, Shelter has grown into an influential quasi government department – the housing ministry has effectively outsourced its PRS advice and support functions to the organisation.

Also, Shelter has been a heavy influence on successive government’s housing policies including mandatory deposit protection schemes, the lettings fees ban, the ‘No DSS’ ban, the fitness for human habitation legislation as well as the successive Covid evictions bans.

Big money

It’s also a big business; Shelter’s most recent results reveal donations of £37m, government and local government grants and contracts worth £18.3m which, together with other income, adds up to a turnover of £67.4m.

It also holds the enviable position of being both funded by the public purse via its social welfare contracts, while at the same time being an influential lobbyer of the Government.

With such power comes responsibility. But Shelter has recently taken the lead in bashing landlords, as its most recent campaign demonstrates, without much evidence of this responsibility.

Landlords are painted as criminals, exploiters, lazy and running filthy properties while preying on vulnerable tenants even though the most recent revealed that 81.8% of tenants it canvassed were ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ happy with their landlord, or didn’t hold an opinion one way or the other.

Shocking facts

Of course, to get cut through and grab the headlines requires shocking facts, but given Shelter’s access to the public purse, it seems unfair to many landlords that tax payer funds are spent on campaigns that paint the whole PRS as a slum landlord cesspit.

As Kate Faulkner, who has a leading role in current government efforts to work with the industry to improve the housing market, tells me, given the millions they have spent influencing changes within the private rented sector, “they are now as responsible and accountable for the state of the PRS as government, landlords and agents”.

“Their latest survey has the view that ‘nothing has changed’ so neither them, the government, landlords or agents have made the PRS a better place for tenants over the years.

“I don’t think that is true. There is a legally and safely-let PRS that is much better thanks to Shelter, landlords, agents and government.

Unlawfully let

“But we all accept there is an unlawfully-let sector, which mostly affects vulnerable people. These are typically people that are eligible for and should be living in social housing. 

“Social housing is the responsibility of government and Shelter. The PRS has been ‘dragged’ into this sector, as have B&Bs, and they are both being squeezed to meet social need, despite little regulation in both sectors.

“This is where a lot of misery is being caused, but landlords and letting agents can’t do much to influence this.”

It would be good if Shelter were to recognise this going forward. LandlordZONE has reached out to its CEO to see if she would discuss taking a more conciliatory approach to private landlords and reflect the reality on the ground. But so far to no avail.

Nigel Lewis is editor of LandlordZONE.

©1999 - Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® - OPINION: It’s time for Shelter to stop painting all landlords as ‘abusive’ and ‘flouting the law’ | LandlordZONE.

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Kent landlord is banned for life from contacting local council

Controversial landlord Fergus Wilson has been banned for life from contacting his local council directly after losing ©1999 - Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® - Kent landlord is banned for life from contacting local council | LandlordZONE.

Kent landlord is banned for life from contacting local council

Controversial landlord Fergus Wilson has been banned for life from contacting his local council directly after losing a High Court battle.

Multi-millionaire Wilson has been slapped with an injunction after the court heard he had sent hundreds of letters and emails and made needless phone calls and formal complaints against officers, councillors and legal representatives.

He sent one letter to council leader Gerry Clarkson’s home address, encouraging him to ‘do all the young people in Ashford a service and commit suicide’. 

In another, Wilson referred to a female member of staff as an ‘objectionable fat lady’ and ‘Michelin lady’ when calling for her to be fired. 

In his judgment, Daryl Allen QC said: “The defendant’s conduct repeatedly went far beyond merely irritating and annoying, it was deliberately offensive. It included numerous unfounded allegations of professional misconduct and criminal conduct.”

Interim junction

It supports the previous interim injunction which Ashford Council was awarded in July 2020 and means the landlord will now only be able to contact it through a named legal advisor. A council spokesman says: “The judgement has vindicated the council’s decision to take the unusual step of resorting to litigation in order to protect its staff and councillors.”

Wilson admits that he called a staff member ‘Michelin Lady’, after receiving a letter which he took gross offence to, when Ashford Council failed to respond to his Freedom of Information request. He then decided to stop letting properties in Ashford when the council issued harassment proceedings.

He tells LandlordZONE: “All properties were either sold or spoken for before the outcome of the council’s application was known. I am sorry for all the tenants who had been with us for many years. They are totally innocent victims.”

Wilson of the remaining 150 houses from his 970-strong portfolio to the Home Office or Kent County Council to help address the issue of homeless asylum seekers, as he plans to retire and leave himself just 10 houses.

©1999 - Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® - Kent landlord is banned for life from contacting local council | LandlordZONE.

Source : Landlord Zone More   

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