charity Shelter has launched a campaign against what
it’s calling “Rogue Landlords” –
and is claiming that they’re far from being
a minority. The charity has published a report stating
that 90% of surveyed environmental health officers
(EHOs) “who deal directly with private renters
had encountered landlords harassing or illegally evicting
Shelter reports that 90% have also “encountered
cases of severe damp, mould, electrical or fire safety
hazards in properties they investigated in the last
year.” Astonishingly, one EHO described a house
that had been let with no heating, hot water or electricity.
Another reported a home let to a mother with children
that didn’t have a kitchen. 60% of the EHOs
surveyed said they thought that the motive behind
letting such unsuitable properties was profit.
is pressing for government and local authorities to
work together and “develop a tough programme
of action.” ‘Our investigation shows just
how ruthless a minority of rogue landlords can be,”
said Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb.
“But this is not just the odd crook here and
there. We know there are people operating in cities
up and down the county and it’s clear that this
is a national problem that urgently needs a national
has also commissioned some research about what tenants
think about their landlords. It makes pretty uncomfortable
reading: their headline runs “1 million victims
of landlord scams”
tenants were surveyed, and 2% of them said “they
had been the victim of underhand practices when privately
renting”. Shelter says that this 2% is “equivalent
to 1 million people nationwide”. If that extrapolation
were correct, it would mean that 50 million of the
UK’s 61 million population were renting. As
that would leave only 11 million people to complain
about the value of their houses at dinner parties,
it seems unlikely to be accurate.
aside, there’s no indication of just what the
survey respondents meant by “underhand practises”.
It might mean illegal practice – homes not up
to standard, or deposits unfairly withheld. But it
might equally mean landlords who’ve annoyed
their tenants – by, for example, wanting their
rent paid on time, and asking their tenants to vacate
when it’s not. We have no way of knowing, based
on the reports that have been issued.
also have no idea how self-selecting these 45 (2%
of 2,234) tenants were. It seems inevitable, though,
that those who have an amicable relationship with
their landlord would be much less likely to fill out
a poll about problem landlords.
no doubt that Shelter does important and valuable
work. And what they’re trying to do with this
survey – raise awareness of problem landlords
and the effect they have on their tenants –
is laudable. But this has to be based on fact, not
on shock value.