Those evil Rouge Landlords.
They’re at it again, terrorising tenants up and down the land.
At least in the imagination of anti-landlord campaigners.
Unfortunately, when Shelter did some research to try and find out how many there are, they found there weren’t very many.
Local Councils could only name 1477 out of approximately 1.2 million landlords in England and Wales:
While local authorities are aware of some 1,477 serial rogue landlords, in the past year only 270 were prosecuted, so many bad landlords are not receiving a clear message that bad practice will be prosecuted.
1477 represents approximately 5 rogues per Local Authority, and is far more amenable to the extensive tareted enforcement powers already possessed by Local Authorities than expensive Licensing. That is most inconvenient, when Shelter and various Local Authorities are trying to drive through very large scale landlord registration, at a cost of £500 to £800 per property, using fear of Rogue Landlords as the battering ram.
No wonder that statistic doesn’t get a mention on the campaign web page.
So how do the Rouge campaigners convince the public?
One approach is to follow Graham Jones MP (Labour, Haslingden and Hyndburn), and simply reach for the language of demonisation to keep your constituents good and scared.
Here’s friend Graham two weeks ago talking about something he calls “hardcore landlords” (whatever they are) on his blog, in an article celebrating “Selective Licensing”:
The local Conservative Council were lukewarm about it but bowing to public pressure brought forward a token scheme which ultimately lost a judicial review to hard core landlords out to defend their interests whilst costing the Council £000,000′s in legal fees.
Does anyone even know what a “hardcore landlord” is? And whether they are any different to a Rouge, or even Rogue, Landlord?
Are they some sort of bullet-headed Vinny Jones character – all 347 of them who fought the case – extracting money with menaces from helpless tenants, while Super Graham fights them with a lightsabre, clad in lime green fluorescent lurex?
Or perhaps they are little old ladies mainlining heroine before going out to terrorise helpless tenants with sharpened knitting needles, or threatening violence to make them wear cableknit pullovers?
Perhaps they all look like Bruce Willis, though they are more likely to be footballers.
If we click through we see that Kevin Jones is being economical with the actualité:
A selective licensing scheme enforced by Hyndburn District Council in Lancashire was quashed this week when 347landlords won their case against the local authority.
The landlords claimed the council had imposed the designated scheme without consultation or good reason to enforce licensing on the 1,326 properties affected. The council, who introduced the conditional scheme, in which landlords must pay for the application of a license lost on grounds amounting to failure to consult and not following guidance, making misrepresentations to the Secretary of State. As a result, Mr. Justice McCombe held that the Council’s decision to designate an area for selective licensing and the resulting designation were both an unlawful act.
Hyndburn Council are not alone in their actions, a number of local authorities up and down the Country have been accused by landlords for failing to consult and imposing licensing and planning on private rented properties.
I’d describe these ‘hardcore landlords’ a little differently:
“people who have been subjected to an unlawful process by Hyndburn Council, and who wanted their civil rights”.
It’s a little rich for Graham Jones MP to demonise the victims, when simple competence on the part of Hyndburn Council would have prevented a Judicial Review being necessary in the first place.
I don’t think this approach on the part of Graham Jones, and his fellow campaigners – and a depressingly large number of ignorant-as-two-short-cranks columnists – helps anyone, least of all tenants.
Here’s the full Shelter video: