"During the programme we have shown two very different people who are representative of private landlords . . . "
With those words Jon Snow of Channel 4’s Dispatches programme ended yet another damning indictment of the private rented sector last night. In a shocking programme landlords in Manchester and London were shown to be treating both their tenants and the law with utter contempt.
The programme showed that Meridian, a Manchester property company that claims to be a charity, was wilfully housing people in truly awful slum conditions. Landlord Mr Gill from London happily housed people in his garden shed and arranged for illegal immigrants to gain access to the UK.
Jon Snow claimed Dispatches could have made the programme in any local authority area in the UK and he was backed by Shelter in his assessment that private landlords are out of control. Private landlords, it was claimed, know that they won’t be prosecuted and therefore are content to be slum landlords whilst they themselves live in exclusive ‘executive’ homes.
Dispatches also interviewed Housing Minister Grant Shapps who promised to personally look into the allegations made in the programme. And there lies the problem.
Is the Government’s Housing Minister unaware that there are rogue landlords? Would Mr Shapps be surprised to learn that there are rogue tenants? He is the Housing Minister in a country that allows some tenants to be housed in utter squalor at the tax payers’ expense. He is the Housing Minister in a country where some people live in garden sheds. He is also the Housing Minister in a country that allows tenants to cause £13,000 worth of damage to a landlord’s property without any method of redress for the landlord (see the link to the article below).
Successive Governments have targeted the majority of good, decent landlords and utterly failed to eradicate rogue landlords. There are over one million private landlords in the UK and it is always the honest landlord who has to comply with the legislation whilst the rogue landlord does what they like.
It is this inequality in the treatment of landlords that is the real scandal. There is clearly one law for honest landlords and one law for rogue landlords, but all are tarred with the same brush. No-one wants rogue landlords, especially not decent landlords.
Jon Snow should have said that Dispatches has shown two people who are representative of rogue landlords, not the majority of private landlords. Grant Shapps should target rogue landlords and at the same time make life easier for the majority of landlords who already comply with the law.
This country needs the housing that honest landlords provide, it does not need a witch hunt.
Click here to read the article Tenant 'caused £13k worth of damage to Lincoln home'
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