Monday, 4 February 2013

Nothing Like A Rogue

If everyone is strongly against an issue, problem, or situation, and people march on the streets and sign petitions etc, does that mean that everyone else is silently but actively in favour? I mean, unless you protest loudly, and keep repeating and emphasising your opposition to an issue, does this mean you support it?

No. But given the fuss being made about so-called ‘rogue landlords’ you’d think this was the case. Freedom from rogues… an end to rogues… down with rogues! All campaigning groups and political parties stress their strong opposition to rogues.

But how do you define rogue? The scum who rent out those notorious beds in sheds? The landlady who killed a tenant through allowing faulty wiring to go unchecked and unrepaired? The man who illegally evicted his tenant by hiring thugs to assault him and then threw him out on the street?

I think rogues are a distraction. Where they exist, there is enough relevant legislation to ensure they imprisoned or fined, but apparently little will to deploy it. Shelter are campaigning hard on rogues, and yes, rogues are really, really bad.

Never forget the worst part of renting: the low level misery. Should a landlord without a licence, or one who rents out property without permission from their mortgage provider, or who issues retaliatory eviction to a tenant who asks for a repair be considered rogue?

I recently contacted my local (Labour) MP, regarding the Commons debate on renting, and requested that he raise: short tenancies, retaliatory evictions, that rentiers need only give two months notice and tenants are out etc.etc etc… His reply was amazing.

He is in favour of: ‘regulating residential lettings and management agents; protecting tenants, landlords and the reputations of the many responsible agents; ending the confusing, inconsistent fees and charges regime, making fees easily understandable, upfront and comparable across agents; promoting longer term tenancies and predictable rents; and introducing a national register of landlords to help empower local authorities to improve standards and deal with rogue landlords.’

Rogue landlords kill people, but they could already be imprisoned. It’s a bit like the lighter sentences given for death by dangerous driving, which never make sense to me. Causing tenants to live in shed, killing them by rogue electrics, beating them up should be properly sanctioned. Which they are.

I get the impression that with renting, no politician actually get it, because they don’t do it. Renting for them all is a brief and tricky sojourn, in halls of residence or even ‘rooms ‘ at Oxbridge, and then in better homes while they save to buy, not a way of life forever. MP’s who rent do not suffer the enduring insecurity suffered by renters at the ‘affordable’ end of the market, where a request for essential repairs will see them shown the door.

Rogue landlords are vile, on this we can agree. But far worse for tenants is the short term insecurity, the never knowing how long you can stay, and accepting that if you press for repairs can be given notice on a carefree caprice.

Rogues are very, very bad, but there is a greater wrong.


Anonymous said...

What must always be done as priority are heat and light any problems with gas fires boilers electrical must be as near as can be imediate.Then there are other things I get calls about and the 'type' of tenant who calls about these always need them to be done right now it has to be done as it is urgent ! last week I had a broken hinge on a gate a rocky paving slab and a shelf under a kitchen unit .I know for a fact that with the number of properties we have there are many more of these little jobs that tenants do themselves without giving it a thought, I would be that type of person put a few screws in a hinge or a bit of sand under a slab etc etc .
It ofcourse is their right to ring me up and ask for these things to be done and many of them are the very bright but useless types ,nice enough but of limitied ability ,now if I were not of the nature to just shake my head to myself and get on with it andyou had a landlord of a different personality then you can see where the friction would be and a section 21 given .
Whar would these people do if they were paying a mortgage ( renting off the bank) would their house fall appart around their ears? who would they call?
I know people are different but lets try to define emergency a little better. When my children were small the rule when playing out was if you fall over or hurt yourself don't come to me unless you are bleeding,I have often wondered if tenants who can mend their own kitchen unit without fuss had parents telling them the same!
Simon PLD

space cadet said...

Simon, that's a good point you make. I'd like to see "emergency" defined better too, to help both sides. But, it's really important to remember here that many letting agents (and some landlords) will find any excuse to charge you for "damage" at the end of a tenancy, and will go round like sniffer dogs looking for things that have been "tampered with".

Just maybe these tenants you mention worry greatly about such things? I wouldn't blame them. Do they know where you stand on the matter? Do they know that it's OK to fix things?

This is another of those great unspokens isn't it. Landlord nor tenant never meet, or say nothing, each left wondering what the other side thinks.

Some tenants are a whole lot more carefree than others, same with landlords. It's one of the reasons I prefer to always deal with landlords privately, so that I can talk to them and find this stuff out !

RenterGirl said...

Don't forget tenants who call landlord as want to make sure there is no underlying fault. And yes, the better relations are, the more tenants willl know they can do minor repairs ie re-sealing baths when required (hello Landgirl!) and not expecting landlords to teleport round to fix a lightbulb (even when tennats are penalised by rentiers and gents for... not changing lightbulbs when the leave!)

Tesco Value Chef said...


Just a gentle reminder - we pay you a huge amount of money every month for a service and part of that service is to keep the place in good order. Personally, I would prefer not to bother my landlord over minor issues - but I do have that right.

If you don't wish to provide a service, you shouldn't be charging people money for it. "Personality" has nothing to do with it.

Anonymous said...


If I were paying a mortgage, I would save the difference between the monthly cost of my mortgage and the sort of extortionate rent I pay and use that to repair anything that went wrong. We were recently unable to access our bedroom for 3 nights because of a broken mortice latch and apparently 3 nights was a reasonable time to repair it.

You sound smug and patronising, so you don't need to tell us that you're a letting agent.... we know.

Anonymous said...

Waiting till a child bleeds before you comfort them when they have hurt themselves? Hmm.I suppose that will prevent them being a soft touch generation and wanting tenancy rights. They should grit their teeth and not mind it when their shack starts crumbling around them. They should not complain when their landlord tells them to fix the problem themselves. After all if you own the property that then gives you the right to do or say anything. Thanks for confirming the status quo.

RenterGirl said...

To continue and extend Simon's rather unfortunate metaphor: you can bleed to death in minutes.

(People- I checked - he paid the bills for their counselling.)

It's all about rentiers and tenants talking. But sometimes letting agents get in the way, preferring their own (generally overpriced!)contractors. One previous agent told me to 'repit it myself' by which I men mssive window so loose that water came through.

Anonymous said...

As a rentier I'd like a lot more said about Rogue Tenants, and the damage and harm they cause.

When something is rented it doesn't mean that you also have rights to intimidate or harass the landlord, that you can smash up the furniture because you've had too much to drink, that there is NO actual incentive for the tenant to keep anything in good order (apart from human decency), after all "the landlord will get a new one....".

Time after time I've seen, had experience of and heard of issues caused by feckless, evasive, lying tenants.

My own worst case? A tenant stopped paying for several months, I gave him time to sort himself out, then when I finally went round to see him, he was gone, and he'd sold ALL the furniture in the flat presumably to pay my rent.

The police weren't interested it being a "civil" matter and he's long gone. Probably doing the same to another landlord somewhere. Maybe adding comments to these blogs excoriating landlords.

In fact given the number of properties and the length of time I've been doing that I count myself lucky as others have fared fare worse.

Yes, I've been renting properties out for over 10 years, and yes I make a few shillings out of it, and yes its better than a pension.

I'm not at all bothered by government legislation as it generally just codifies best practice. Fortunately all my properties are modern, refurbished and I wouldn't dream of offering any property I wouldn't live in.
The problem with Renter Girl and her somewhat bonkers column in the Guardian is that she's a touch one-sided. Bad behaviour takes place everywhere, vilifying landlords (yes the tone of your arguments leave no doubt on that) isn't the whole picture. Or anything like it.

Anonymous said...

Err... same anonymous as above, that should have read sold ALL the landlords furniture in the flat, and the reason I'd gone round to see him was for a polite discussion of how to help.

In 2000's every flat I let had an expensive furniture pack in it of modern furniture, obviously it was too much temptation for the individual concerned.

Patsy said...

Hi Penny, have just come across some very interesting comments by people on the Ken Loach Film Cathy Come Home, which was shown in the 1960's. At the time it wa shown, myself and my family were homeless in Newcastle upon Tyne, this was not due to my father or mother, but due to the house fire, which burned our home to the ground. The Council, refused to re house us and put us in temporary accommodation. This consisted of one room in a large dilapidated building, with another 3 families, all of whom had been classed as 'Problem families' they had alcohol and mental health issues. The conditions were awful and we stayed there for 2 years. I was bullied by a teacher at school because of where I lived. We were the subject of an article in the Evening Chronicle newspaper just after the film came out, however, in spite of this, the council after having promised to rehouse us, decided not to. Eventually, we found a room in another house, and went from room to room until I was 11 years old, when we finally found a house to rent in #Gateshead. The fear of being homeless has never left me since. I have not however decended into drugs, or alcohol addiction and have a degree, which I studied for in my 40's. I work and have a nice home, so I just want to say to those people, who think homeless people are lazy/addicts that is not always the case and it is not fair for them to judge someone, based on media hype. They haven't been there and I have, so I know how unjust the housing system and the political system are and how the rhetoric doesn't match up to the reality of life for homeless people. I am not accusing you personally, but I just wanted someone to know how it was. It is possible to change things, but homeless people are not just statistics, they are human beings and deserve to be treated as such.

RenterGirl said...

Patsy I already know.

And Anon above: I LOOOOVE it when people tell me what to write on my own blog after insulting me. When regulation comes in, you will have nothing to fear.

Anonymous said...

C'mon, I didn't insult you, just your column... a subtle difference.

Of course, you've got an open blog so we can all leave comments and you can harvest free ideas for your paid writings... seriously happy to help out, I don't feel "used" at all.

PS - The shabby lazy mendacious landlords (scum, as I believe you may have characterised them as) will have to clean up their act, more licensing is coming and there is a 2018 rule that prohibits letting any property less than an EPC D rating. Until then, wrap up warm.

Emma said...

Rentergirl, this is something that I totally agree with. All of the focus on 'rogue' landlords (of whom there are probably few, statistically - and the same goes for 'rogue' tenants) distracts from the bigger issue of the hundreds of thousands of amateur landlords who don't really know what they're doing and who inflict, as you say, endless 'low level misery' on their tenants. In my experience most landlords aren't intentionally bad, but they are often pretty indifferent to their tenant's rights as a customer and as long as they get the rent, they don't bother too much about repairs, maintenance or the way their agents are hassling their tenants.

It always frustrates me when people counter this by saying 'well, what would you do in your own house when there's a problem?' That misses the point in a fairly major way - a rented house isn't MINE, so I'm at the mercy of my landlord and agency to sort out issues. If MY heating/door/window/roof broke in MY house then I'd sort it out, or live with the consequences if I couldn't afford to mend it - I could choose the timescales and if I didn't fix it then that would be my choice (hell, I could probably get a government grant to replace the boiler or windows ...) But as I don't have that choice why shouldn't I expect YOU to repair the heating/door/window/roof in a reasonable time when it's YOUR property and I'm paying a premium to live there? Some landlords seem so horrified at the thought of having to carry out repairs on their rentals that you wonder if agents tell them that renting a house out on a shorthold tenancy creates some kind of magical barrier that means they'll never have to carry out maintenance on it ever again ...

space cadet said...

Loving Emma's comment so much. Funny to see Anon et al crying for "balance". Do you get the great injustice that is the private rented sector right now? RG has put plenty of balance in her articles (if you read them properly). Stop reacting like a dog off its leash, and think twice before you bark with your tales of one-upmanship. Please.

RenterGirl said...

Yep Emma - that's the problem. We can't do our repairs, and that's what we pay landlords rent for.

Anon this sin't an open forum. It's a blog. My blog. bout renting from the tenants point of view. I await you saying anything interesting interesting enough for me to 'harvest' for my paid work. But I am not holding my breath.

Landlord said...

As Landlord, I dislike tenants doing repairs as they tend to cock-it up.

I don't like tenants re-decorating. Paint dropped everywhere and even light switches painted over and even electric sockets....