Shelter has launched a broadside against landlords and letting agents, using research among 3,500 private renters to accuse both groups of illegal behaviour.

Of those polled, the lobbying organisation says 45% report illegal behaviour by their landlord or letting agent. Of these, 25% reported their landlord or letting agent entering their property without permission, 22% reported legally required safety equipment such as smoke alarms missing or not working and 18% had not protected their rental deposit with an approved scheme.

Most alarmingly, 9% of those polled said they had been threatened physically or verbally by their landlord or letting agent.

“Enough is enough. Nobody is above the law and renters are tired of being powerless to enforce their rights,” says Shelter chief executive Polly Neate (main image).

The survey was conducted by pollster YouGov using its panel which, Shelter says, ‘aims to be as representative as possible of private renters as a whole’ and is ‘not limited to people who have contacted Shelter’.

The research also has a political purpose – Shelter is keen to ensure that the government does not waiver from its promise made in the most recent Queen’s Speech in May to bring in significant reform for the private rented sector (PRS).

This could include a national landlord register for England and abolishing Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.

The research has not gone down well with organisations within the PRS.

Eddie Hooker (pictured), CEO of Hamilton Fraser, says ‘‘these sorts of wild accusations are not helpful at the moment but what I would agree with Shelter about is that too many tenants do not understand how the rental market works including, for example, how the rules governing protecting deposits vary depending on the kind of tenancy a renter has signed”,” he says.

paul shamplina portrait

Paul Shamplina of Landlord Actions, adds: “Suggesting that 45% of landlords have been involved in some kind of illegal activity is totally incorrect, as is the claim that a quarter of landlords have let themselves into a property without permission – none of these claims made by Shelter are an accurate reflection of the hard and diligent work many landlords and estate agents put into managing their properties”.

nathan emerson fraud

And Nathan Emerson, who heads up the UK’s letting agent trade body Property, says Shelter’s figures are “disheartening as our members do and have worked tirelessly, particularly throughout the pandemic, to maintain tenancies and ensure that properties are safe and meet a high standard even whilst under restricted working conditions”.


  1. The usual Shelter reteric, landlords are untrustworthy scum living off poor tenants.

    Shelter could always put their money where their mouth is and actually start providing Shelter rather than complaining about how the PRS does it .

    All these left wing “charities ” do is lead to increased costs for the tenants they claim to support whilst making themselves a nice comfortable living .

    • Perhaps you should open your eyes. Shelter will receive clients of landlords where there is a problem; otherwise why would the client go to them. There are plenty of landlords who simply let themselves in, yet your ‘rhetoric’ refuses to see that. Maybe the letting agents who ‘let themselves in’ will wake up to the fact that they leave themselves wide open to safeguarding claims where they discover young people in the house that they shouldn’t have let themselves into; theft allegations, illegal entry and trespass claims, by letting themselves in when a property is not occupied where they just turn up, without any written notice whatsoever, because yes, that does happen too. I have dealt with a case where the tenant came to see me, terrified of a landlord, who then waited for him to return home, ambushed him in a passageway near to his home and broke his collarbone and his jaw. You don’t acknowledge any of this, because you simply don’t want to. And there is ‘no comfortable living’ to be made. These ‘left wing’ charities you allude to, are just that, charities. Presumably, you are also if the opinion that it’s acceptable for landlords to abuse their tenants. There are both good and bad tenants. Perhaps your ‘right wing’ bias needs spectacles!

      • My eyes are wide open Christine , Shelter don’t provide shelter to anyone they simply tell the PRS how it ought to do it. All I suggest is that rather than telling the PRS how to do it they ought to perhaps do something tangible .

        My suggestion that the activities of the left wing charities results in increased costs for tenants can clearly be seen . Increased costs to a landlord result in increased costs to tenants , not rocket science is it Christine?

        There are a small proportion of poor landlords, there is a small proportion of poor tenants.
        However, being a tenant brings the option to move .

        On what basis do you presume I would think it acceptable to abuse tenants ? Or is that just the logic of my opinion doesn’t match yours hence let’s make offensive statements?

        There is a very comfortable life to be had from working for a charity, look up the salary levels , the CEO of Shelter earns in excess of £120k per year , its all public record Christine , look it up

  2. well ive had letting agents attempt to let themselves in without even knocking at the door first and they were told beforehand that i would be at home for their silly inspection.
    i had to report another landlord to the police for assault.
    there’s been a few cases reported in the news of serious harassment campaigns by some landlords.
    so illegal behavior does happen, these prs organisations just dont want people to know how quite a few landlords and letting agents act in the prs.

    • Just shows how stupid you are… Agents visits are an opportunity to discuss face to face any issues that you think need to be raised. Items highlighted can be fixed or even a pre-emptive repair done before something that may be worn actually breaks.

      The agent can also pickup on such things as faulty wiring and alert the landlord instead of you getting electrocuted.

      “I had to report another landlord to the police for assault”

      Was he prosecuted? if so why not name and shame or is this a script from Fantasy island? Post a link to the case online, I’d love to read it.

      “so illegal behavior does happen”
      Yup, Pop up Brothels, Cannabis Farms, Criminal Damage, Tampering with meters, Subletting, Overcrowding, non-payment of rent…

      Need I go on???

    • What was ‘silly’ about their inspections Dave? Is it not sensible and positive for landlords and/or their agents to routinely check their property is safe, not being used illegally for drugs or sub-let, or if any repairs are needed, and to check the tenant is happy, and that the tenant is treating the property as they should?
      If your landlord assaulted you, you were right to report him to the police. Did they prosecute, or did you have no evidence that it really happened?
      The landlords in the news are indeed few, but they are generally in the news because they are being prosecuted, quite rightly.

    • I think you’ll find that no-one claims that “bad apples” don’t exist. But clearly if Shelter poll those who’ve gone to them then they’ll get a distorted results because the majority of happy tenants won’t have been included.
      And lets be clear, the mojority of us landlords who are decent and honest do not condone the bad apples. We’d be quite happy to see them weeded out. BUT, that’s not what keeps happening. What keeps happening is basically “people aren’t complying with the regulations, therefore we need more regulations”. So what happens is more red tape and expense for those who already comply with the law – while those that don’t simply ignore yet another regulation.
      What needs to happen is for the existing regulations (and they have already covered everything complained abut for many years) to be enforced – in a fair way that doesn’t heap costs and hassle on the majority of good landlords.

  3. Landlords are painted as villains by Govt, Starmer, Gen rent, Shelter etc at every opportunity and the result will be that over time investors will be deterred from entering the PRS and current landlords will decide they don’t need the bad press and will move their investments elsewhere…

    Result… Higher rents and fewer properties available.

    How does that solve the housing shortage? If anything all it does is provide the Landlords who remain in the PRS with better profits.

    Well, done shelter for handing more cash to investors with your fake news.

  4. I read the Shelter comments in the press a few days ago. Another inaccuracy was that there had been no new regulation of landlords since the Housing Act in 1988. Where to start????

    Good landlords share Shelter’s aims. Why does there need to be so much distrust?

  5. Unfortunately Shelter have a point.
    Unfortunately they don’t address the important illegal activity that hundreds of thousands of LL engage in daily.

    The main one is MORTGAGE FRAUD.

    Shelter will never mention this as it knows millions of tenants would be made homeless; LL bankrupted and a property crash with a banking collapse resulting in far worse than 2008.

    Everyone especially Shelter know that LL mortgage fraud is on a massive scale.

    Just take all those accidental LL who are letting on a resi mortgage and who have NOT obtained CTL.
    There are about 300000 of these fraudster A LL.

    They are uninsured.
    You can’t insure a mortgaged resi property unless CTL has been obtained.
    You can’t have LL insurance on a resi mortgaged property unless CTL obtained.
    Mortgage conditions require correct insurance.

    Unless CTL has been obtained Accidental LL are committing mortgage fraud.

    If lenders find out they will most probably call in the loan.

    Next we have LL who are letting to DSS tenants in breach of BTL mortgage conditions.

    Again lenders could call in loans.

    That would be about 3 million homeless DSS tenants.

    Next we come to BTL LL who are utilising SA and AirBnB in breach of their BTL mortgage conditions; freeholder and insurance conditions.

    It has been suggested that a National LL Licensing system is set up.

    I totally agree.
    ONLY problem though will be that millions of fraudulent lettings will be discovered.
    Again this would cause a property crash with millions of homeless tenants and many bankrupted LL.

    Perhaps therefore letting sleeping dogs lie rather than detecting the millions of fraudulent tenancies would be the wisest thing to do!

  6. I have been a Landlord for 20 years with 8 to 13 properties and have worked as a High street Letting Agent for 4 years and in the last 8 years have run my own professionally qualified Lettings agency from home – i manage 28 properties for other Landlords , i am a member of the PRS , ICO, CMP , NFOPP qualified and i never go into a property without permission , written or in a text at least . I have never had one complaint raised by the PRS against me , I am firm but fair with all tenants giving them information, guides and free advice but the problems come when tenants don’t read the advice or follow the rules , they think they can break the Tenancy agreement or terms when they like. Without us reputable Landlords they would have no where to live, yes there must be a number of Landlords in certiain areas operating without adhering to the regulations but WHY OH WHY are tenants renting from these type of people !! Trading standards must enforce the regulations more vigorously, tenants need to know what they are geeting for the money and don’t rent if Landlord appears to be ignoring the rules. Please SHEWLTER DON’T tar us all with the same brush because believe it or not tehre are Landlords like me that pride ourselves on offereing decent accomodation to applicants that appreciate it !

  7. I thought I would do a quick search on Shelters website – as LLs / LAs know “anti social” behaviour is a massive concern – so I searched for “anti social”

    I wanted to see how many campaigns and/or news stories covered those tenants who caused misery with their anti-social behaviour.

    The results? NONE about reported cases of ASB, yet we know there are thousands of them.

    Shelter do give advice on how to report an ASB tenant to that tenants Landlord ie make it the LLs fault and there is plenty of advice on how to defend eviction for ASB too.

    Come on Shelter – by all means attack the few poor LAs and LLs – but how about a bit of fairness in reporting the poor Tenants too………..surely you’re not worried it would suddenly lead your vitriol in the “wrong” direction are you.

  8. Trish, well said I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s so easy don’t supply any housing yourself just knock anyone that does, now that’s much easier. can I have another pay rise.


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