Please Note: This Article is 6 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

Are leading charitable organisations exaggerating claims about tenant evictions in order to bring about their desired changes to housing legislation?

The growth of the private letting market is focussing attention on private landlords and in particular the activities of those who operate in the twilight zone of renting to tenants who would traditionally have been housed in the social sector.

These, for obvious reasons, are the most difficult tenants to house and manage but they represent a small fraction of the private rental sector (PRS) as a whole.

Operating in this segment of the market requires a certain type of landlord; usually they fall into two camps: those with the tenacity and professionalism to run a good operation for these types of tenants, providing good accommodation and treating them with fairness and respect, despite putting up with more than their fair share hassle and problems.

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The landlords in the second camp are invariably less than professional; the cowboy operators who are prepared to flout the law, bend the rules and generally operate in a cavalier fashion which sometimes not only puts lives at risk, they bully and intimidate rather than provide a courteous service.

Unfortunately for the vast majority of responsible landlords they become tarred with the same brush as the delinquents, and it would seem that between the charities and the media, this misconception is being deliberately sustained for public consumption.

It’s this latter group that most decent landlords wish the authorities would clamp down on, and it’s this latter group the charities tend to focus their attention on, because it’s the group they are regularly in contact with.

It’s perhaps understandable that these charities get a distorted view of landlords as a whole when all they come into contact with is the small minority of bad ones.

The National Landlords Association recently hit back strongly at claims by the Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) that it has experienced a 38 per cent increase in cases of PRS landlords threatening tenants, who have no rent arrears, with eviction.

These claims by CAB, and to a large extent these are mirrored by those of Shelter, appear to run completely counter to published government statistics which show that only around 9 per cent of all English tenancies are ended by the landlord, and of those brought to court, over 90 per cent of those are due to rent arrears.

Reporting a large increase in so called “revenge evictions” particularly in London and the South East, CAB and Shelter are arguing that landlords are taking advantage of a housing undersupply situation, where landlords simply replace tenants if they complain about living conditions or necessary repairs.

The practices may be used by those operating on the fringes of the law, but as the landlord organisations constantly argue, good landlords have an incentive to keep their properties in good repair and avoid vacant periods when no rent is coming in. In any case they would argue that evicting a tenant is no simple matter; it can take months, is very time consuming for the landlord and can be very expensive in legal costs.

MD of eviction specialist Landlord Action, Paul Shamplina, has recently commented that the media is picking up on these exaggerated claims about “revenge evictions” and misusing them to give all landlords a bad name.

The figures do show that there has been a rise in the number of landlord’s instigating eviction proceeding under the Section 21 process, but this is down to the fact that there are now thousands more tenancies in existence and growing, and the financial stress the recession has put many tenants and some landlords under. The overwhelming reason for eviction proceedings is rent arrears, not the so called “revenge eviction”.

The situation reflects the growth of the rental market and the fact that many tenants of private landlords should really be in social housing: in fact many tenants now request that their landlord evicts them so they can become a priority for councils to rehouse them.

As the law stands, any tenant that leaves accommodation voluntarily will not be considered for rehousing by a local council, but if they have been evicted by their landlord they automatically become the council’s responsibility for rehousing. This is a big incentive for some tenants to get themselves “evicted”.

In addition to these “revenge eviction” claims, the charities are arguing that tenants are still being cheated on deposits, with landlords refusing to pay them back, despite the operation of the tenancy statutory deposit protection schemes.

This is despite figures from the deposit protection agencies operating throughout the UK that show deposit disputes represent a very small proportion of all ending tenancies. So much so that some are now arguing that deposit protection has been a sledge “hammer to crack a nut”; that the size of the problem nowhere near warrants the cost of running these expensive schemes which is costing the taxpayer thousands.  http://goo.gl/pSAQQ9

Landlords are not one of the most revered professional groups in the country; they could perhaps be compared to journalists and politicians in terms of popularity. But is it fair to exaggerate claims of wrongdoing on the part of a minority, when the vast majority, just like the other professionals mentioned, are trying to do a good honest job and provide a public service?

Please Note: This Article is 6 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.
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9 COMMENTS

  1. Here, here! This needs to be made much more widely known, as the it\’s easy for the Press to get one side of a story, without seeing the wider picture. Crack down on rogue Landlords by all means, but when it comes to across the board licensing, with further checks on the property and so on, it will be the poor tenant who will end up picking up the tab (a-la HMO inspection and licensing), not the landlord.
    Is that really what most happily housed tenants want?
    I\’d like to see an eBay style of feedback rating for both landlords AND tenants.
    That way, both parties have a vested interest in keeping each other happy, and landlords can avoid rogue tenants, whilst the tenant can \’vet\’ a potential bad landlord.
    If your not on the (either) list, then further questions may need to be asked…..

  2. Shelter campaigning style alienates the good landlords. They are never fair to landlords.

    Shelter are more interested in landlord bashing rather then doing the right thing. If they say Landlords are evicting tenants, why don\’t they say ever to ***speak*** to the Landlord or letting agents to ask for a *reason*. The only time, I have taken tenants to court, is when tenants have maliciously wrecked the property or when arrears are big (if they are 2-3 months we try to work with them).

    I still have tenants who are not looking after the property, it is not malicious damage, but more like neglectful. I don\’t evict these tenants, because there is a huge repair bill when the property is returned. But if a council housing officer walks into my property, they will assume, I am a bad landlords. Thankfully, keep photos of pre-rental conditions.

    Deposit
    ———–
    My properties are in a lower end of the market, so I don\’t get so many professional tenants, often it means that properties have been trashed or wrecked. It is not fair on good landlords, who have spent money. Shelter does not care about this. They call themselves a \’housing\’ charity, so why not help landlords protect \’housing\’ from bad tenants.

    The deposit protection is useless. On the lower end of the market, most tenants will stop paying the last month\’s rent, so that the landlord has no deposit to cover any damaged. Shelter don\’t care properties have thrashed by tenants. Bad tenants push up rents, because repairs costs are going up.

    Taboo
    ———-
    For me Section 21 is taboo. If Shelter win any changes in the law, I will be selling up my properties.

    At the lower end of the market, you have to be able to evict tenants who are aggressive, wrecking the property or not paying rent. You cannot be in a situation, where it is impossible to evict a tenant.

  3. I have worked for both CAB and Shelter. The clients that I saw were of the type that did require social housing but due to being on the waiting list many rented privately. They had multiple issues and in many instances chaotic lifestyles. At Shelter we did not help landlords and the feeling was very much as the article states that private landlords are money making bullies. I have quite a charitable nature and like to help people who are in need so when it came to renting my house out I took on a tenant on benefits who had a dog who was struggling to get social housing. I was more than generous accepting rent in arrears and buying the tenants bits for the house that I was not obliged to do. All I can say is never again! This person took it for granted that they could pay rent when they liked and neglected the property with the dog causing more than fair wear and tear. Upon leaving they left most of their furniture and other bits dumped on the property which I had the joy of clearing and the associated costs. I then had a series of harassing texts off them! The cheek of some people…I did put my foot down and managed to recover the money and then gave them their full deposit back like a decent landlord would. I am of the former of the descriptions of landlords in the article i.e. professional and honest who treat their tenants with respect. Maybe organisations such as Shelter and CAB need to have a fairer outlook towards landlords and start promoting personal responsibility to their clients so they can help them get out of the revolving door syndrome of their chaotic lives. I have seen both sides so am not condoning the cowboys of course but us decent ones are out there!

    • Thank goodness! Someone who \’gets it\’! It\’s a pity though that it took your own personal experience to verify what decent landlords have been screaming from the rooftops, for years. In a nutshell, shortage of housing plus political \’charity\’ organisations equals another human disaster. Politiks in Shelter have no interest in either the tenant or the landlord, it\’s just another job for life .

      • I couldn\’t agree more about the job for life! And the politics were rife with people servicing their own career paths. (Which is why I didn\’t stay long there…working for a more ethical organisation has to be better).

  4. I think the very word \”eviction\” is emotive. I sense that it has come to be used for any S21 notice, quite irrespective of the balance within a tenancy agreement (and quite irrespective of enforcement through the courts), also allowing a tenant to give notice. In neither the case of the tenant nor the landlord must a reason be given.

    Why has one side of the equation come to be so negatively viewed, whilst not so for the other side of the equation. The only answer that I can see relates to the media and it\’s manipulation by some housing and homelessness charities.

  5. Shelter raises money by fighting distress caused by \’bad housing\’. That is what it does. Check its website. It does not fight landlord distress caused by \’bad tenants\’,
    The bias against landlords is political. Shelter needs to prove it has a need to exist. Without \’bad landlords \’, there is no need for this charity, Consequently the Shelter employees will have no job.
    A lot of charities go this to justify their existence.

  6. Surely, it\’s clear to see that charities such as Shelter and CAB, only really deal, on the frontline with bad landlords and bad tenants alike. I think the masses rather miss the point. Of course, these charities will address landlords in this way. They don\’t see the good ones. Rather than blaming charities; why not just work with them. One thing I do know from working for a housing charity; it\’s always someone else\’s fault! I am so sick of landlords asking me who\’s going to pay their mortgage, if the tenant fails to pay rent. Sorry, but it\’s the landlord\’s responsibility, even when they have a bad tenant. Stop blaming us and work with us!

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