Last week, housing charity Shelter launched the latest phase in its campaign against ‘rogue landlords’.
A short film, starring well-known British comedian Sean Lock, aims to demonstrate the dangers to tenants posed by unscrupulous landlords – but it has attracted the ire of some lettings groups.
Opponents of Shelter’s campaign have suggested that the charity is overplaying the number of rogue landlords operating in the UK, and is vilifying good landlords in the process.
But the charity (and many tenant groups) maintains that the risk posed by these individuals is a real and serious one – and that it is on the rise.
So what are rogue landlords, and what does Shelter want the government to do about it?
What are rogue landlords?
There are many definitions of ‘rogue landlord’. Beyond a landlord’s legal responsibilities there is no established set of best practice guidelines and, as a result, there is often disagreement about their rights and responsibilities.
Shelter gives several examples of behaviour that might be demonstrated by rogue landlords. These include failure to provide safe, habitable accommodation; harassment; illegal eviction; and refusal to return a deposit without good reason.
Shelter says the number of complaints it has received about landlords has increased by some 23 per cent over the course of the last year. Meanwhile, a YouGov poll suggests that just 2.2 per cent of landlords belong to a trade body.
What is Shelter suggesting?
Shelter originally wanted to see the establishment of a compulsory national landlord register, to which landlords would be required to sign up in order to carry on in business.
This suggestion was nipped in the bud by government minister Grant Shapps, who said that the responsibility for dealing with rogue landlords should be assumed by local authorities.
Shelter now wants to see each local authority operate its own accreditation scheme, in order to reassure tenants that they are renting from a reputable landlord. They also want the government to set out minimum standards to which landlords should adhere, and establish a voluntary best practice register.
What do you think?
Do you support the establishment of local authority registers? Do you think Shelter’s campaign is fair? Let us know in the comments below.