Shelter has struck a more conciliatory tone towards private landlords, saying it recognises that many have ‘bent over backwards’ to help their tenants during the pandemic.
The comments were made by its Chief Executive Polly Neate (main pic) at a fringe meeting of the Conservative party conference in Manchester.
Speaking alongside housing minister Eddie Hughes, she said her organisation did not want to ‘demonise’ private landlords and it recognised they play an important role in providing accommodation within the much-expanded private rental sector.
This is a significant shift in tone compared to its most recent media campaign, which launched a broadside against landlords and letting agents, using research among 3,500 private renters to accuse both groups of illegal behaviour.
But at the meeting Neate was keen to emphasise that, although Shelter wanted to squeeze out rogue landlords, she also wanted to see good landlords incentivised to stay.
Nevertheless, Neate caused a stir by suggesting landlords held the balance of power within tenancies.
This led several of the audience to disagree, highlighting how many landlords now feel tenants have been given too many rights to the point where rogue tenants can game the system, and that plans to change evictions law would only make this worse.
But Neate reminded those attending that the private rented sector has changed enormously over the past 20 years and that many more vulnerable renters who used to live within social housing now rent privately.
“Traditionally renters were those on the cusp of home ownership, but now too many on the cusp of homelessness and we need to protect them,” she said.