Throughout the duration of my long, long (very long) renting experience I endured, variously landlords who have: threatened to hit me, refused to repair deathly gas water heaters, given notice by telepathy and then wondered why I hadn’t moved out, gone bankrupt, and it seems gone mad.
But so far, nobody has threatened to shoot me.
Like every right thinking citizen, I think that rogue landlords are bad and should be banned. (I know… I know… see recent post…)
But here is why tenants are scared, and why they feel powerless and vulnerable: there are a minority of landlords out there who are not just a but naughty. There are rentiers who do more than occasionally saunter in to homes unannounced, or who avoid repairs which not even the staunchest advocate of tenant rights would describe as vital. Some rentiers are violent thugs.
But threatening to shoot your tenants? Well that’s extra special horrible isn’t it? I mean, having someone let themselves into your house, using their own key, threaten to have you killed by thugs in their pay, and then bombarding the tenants with abusive phone calls:
“A millionaire landlord who threatened to have tenants shot has been banned from renting out property. Mark Fortune will be breaking the law if he takes on new tenants after licensing chiefs ousted him from a list of fit and proper landlords.”
Fortune’s behaviour makes me wonder if many rentiers secretly wish to copy him. But threatening to shoot people (and all threats of violence) are the handiwork of dodgy crooks who believe tenants should hand over the money while remaining barefoot, unlagged, unheated, draughty and grateful. Ask for repairs? Nah. Fat chance: just hand over the rent, the exits over there, do not pass go, do not collect your deposit on the way out (they’re keeping it for ‘damage.’)
‘The decision comes after Fortune was fined £650 for issuing a tenants of a property in Lonsdale Terrace after they confronted him over a £160 repair bill.'
At the dodgier end, many are gangsters (and I mean actual gangsters) as buy-to-let is rumoured to be a haven for money laundering. The criminal law can, should and usually is, being used against them, but it’s nice to ban them forever from the landlord register as well, isn’t it?.
A while back I received an email from a tenant advisor in (I think )Alabama, where landlords threatening to shoot their tenants was seemingly so commonplace that had published a specialist leaflet (do not fire back?).
I am also intrigued by particular sentence in the Edinburgh story:
It is the first time the city council has refused an application to be included on the register.
There’s the rub. ‘The first time.’ He's banned from the landlord register - big whoop, for sure, but will the council take similar action again? How many landlords understand that they can’t abuse, beat, and hurt their tenants? How many want to issue such threats with impunity?
The rebirth of buy to let will make this a whole lot worse. Meanwhile, Fortune, the gun-toting rentier, still owns those residencies. Perhaps he might just sell or assign them to one of his cronies, managing things from behind the scenes? Confiscation of property – it’s the only way.