Tuesday, 29 October 2013


It was another scandal waiting to happen. The BBC have belatedly discovered that letting agents, lovely, lovely letting agents, those kindly, munificent do-gooders were quite willing to assist landlords reject black tenants. We were all shocked Shocked! SHOCKED!!! I tell you.

The chortling was widespread. Landlords get whatever they want, and so refuse necessary housing to whoever they deem 'undesirable' no matter how vile, unreasonable, or absurdly arcane their reasoning. Tenants have been aware of this since forever, and know that no matter what the law decrees, a subtle nod and a furtive stage wink will give a discreet thumbs down to applicants landlords don't fancy housing. With social homes in decline, that fact this is widespread in the private sector is extremely worrying.

I do not wish to downplay the corrosive and horrendous nature of racial discrimination in the private rented market, but it's worse than the BBC imagined. Private housing is treated by owners as a medieval fiefdom. So here's the full list of people also discriminated against by owners I’ve heard of:

1 Older tenants (they will stay too long).
2 Younger tenants (they will have parties and move).
3 Families with children (noisy kids).
4 Single people (they will move, or move in partners).
5 Single parents (feckless, of course - The Daily Fail says so, ergo it's a fact).
6 Childless couples (they will move).
7 Freelancers (unreliable – despite this being the preferred employment method of most businesses).
8 Shift workers (will supposedly disrupt neighbours)
9 Anyone the owner or agent 'doesn't like the look of,' (excuses all other excuses here).
10 Gay people (simple prejudice).
11 People with certain regional accents (just... because).
12 People that owners have to yet to meet in person meet but don't like the sound of on the phone (who knows why.)
13 You know, 'them - people who seemed a bit... well... kind of: you know (you know… them…)'
14 People who they suspected had been drinking for no clear reason (the view that all tenants are ‘chaotic’).
15 Mental health service users (routine - even endemic).
16 Ex-prisoners - even with spent convictions (even though tenants can’t say the same to rentiers).
17 Students (will party hard then leave).
18 Service men and women (not sure why).
19 People who are either of the previous two (go figure).
20 Anyone without an unrealistically, angelically clear credit record (that is, most of us, except landlords could be as dodgy as hell and we will never know).
20 Artists (who knows why).
21 People saving up to buy (they will move ASAP).
22 People who have moved around every six months - despite only offering six month tenancies themselves (owners suspect the real reason is being evicted bad behaviour).

That list is utterly unreasonable. There’s no way of appealing or challenging it, since it's unrecorded, and standards shift - what one rentier likes in a tenant is loathed by another. You do wonder who exactly is good enough to live in a property since all tenants must be perfect. Just perfect. Inhumanly perfect, wonderful in an otherworld, not-of-this-planet sort of way. In short - nobody fits the bill.




MattW said...

Looks like Letting Agents are discriminating against 99.9% of potential renters then?! That's no way to run a business!

Anonymous said...

If you are concerned about discriminatory practices now, then it would be far worse with rent controls and compulsory longer tenancies;


“The potential for undesirable discriminatory practices is… present, because the perceived costs to landlords of non-discriminatory behaviour are greater if they cannot cancel tenancies at short notice.”

Regards, HB Welcome.

RenterGirl said...

Matt - I would suggest that each owner/agent has their own specific prejudice, but still I wonder how anyone is housed.

HB Welcome. No. They just have to stop. Being. Prejudiced.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. But. It's not. Going. To happen.

Anonymous said...

This post if probably the most nastiest landlord bashing piece which I have read on this blog.

Given the number of migrants in this country, is it really representative of Landlords?

But is the shape of things to come, when the government asks landlords to carry out immigration checks on tenants, which may sound easier then it is. Most landlord / letting agents can't tell the difference between a real and a fake passport. Nor will foreign embassies confirm if a passport is genuine one from their country....

Landlord face fines of £3,000....

RenterGirl said...

The clue to the ethos here is in the name.

Fau said...

Well, you forgot :
people on benefits
people/freelancers who work from home
people with pets
And smokers (yes, it smells, but it's legal)

As a French person, I've also been asked to pay a deposit (which was not required for other tenants), because "I could just pack up and go". As far as I know, my English housemates could have left to Peru halfway through their renting contract...