Rogue Landlords

By:
Madalena Penny

Since the 1950s & 60s, landlords have tried to shake off the bad image created by notorious slum landlord Peter Rackman.  Building a property empire of 100 mansion blocks and 3 nightclubs in West London, the property tycoon who was known to be associated with the Kray twins became infamous for driving out existing tenants with protected tenancies and statutory protection from rent increases.

Using intimidation and violence to remove the sitting tenants, he replaced them with Affro-Carribean immigrants and charged them extortionate rents enforced by bullyboy tactics, knowing that they would not be offered housing elsewhere due to there ethnicity. Conditions of these properties were said to be terrible and were subdivided to make more rooms.  When the scandal hit the headlines in the 1960s, the 1965 Rent Act was established to protect tenants in the private rented housing sector.

50 years later, it appears that some of Rackman’s loathsome reputation still lives on in the private rented sector.  Fortunately, rogue landlords are the exception to the rule in today’s society.  However a new campaign by housing charity ‘Shelter’ highlights the problems caused by dishonest landlords.

In response to the new campaign, Steve Moss, Operations Director of ‘Legal 4 Landlords said,

“Unfortunately, there is always a minority of landlords who operate outside the law and who flaunt the implied trust that a tenancy represents.  Because of rogue landlords, a bad light is cast over the industry, tainting the majority of good landlords.  There are many invaluable courses available, which are run by the RLA for landlords unfamiliar with the lettings industry. There is no excuse for blatant dishonest behaviour.”

In an undercover investigation last week by the Sunday Times, one letting agency was found to racially profile tenants, mainly immigrants who are unaware of housing legislation and naïve of rent values.  In true Rackman-esque style, they were charging the highest rents possible for dirty properties in disrepair.

In their campaign, ‘Shelter’ have issued a tip list of the most common rent scams to avoid including a con artist scam involving an empty property, a bogus landlord and trusting tenants who hand over large amounts of cash in advance rent and deposits only to realise at a later date that they were duped.

For more information visit the Shelter Website at http://england.shelter.org.uk/news/september_2011/rogue_landlords_exposed

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