Rogue business practices by private sector landlords are coming to an end!
The private rented sector today is still haunted by Peter Rachman, the notorious slum landlord of the 1950s. “Rachmanism” is the word the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as the exploitation and intimidation of tenants by unscrupulous landlords. Peter Rachman came to England during the war as a refugee from Poland. He died a millionaire in 1962.
Rachman started work in an estate agency in Shepherds Bush but soon branched out on his own to exploit the post-war housing shortage.
From 1957 onward he bought up many run down old houses in Paddington and North Kensington, using loans from his building society. To maximise his profits he wanted to get rid of sitting tenants and relet the properties at much higher rents. He developed methods to deal with “unprofitable tenants”. He died a millionaire in 1962.
Statistics from Shelter show for the first time the number of renters – 136,485 in England – who are at the mercy of rogue landlords.
“I felt desperate. The landlords have all the power. I didn’t have a say in anything. I wondered if I was treated even more badly because I was a woman on my own,” she said. “I’ve got somewhere else to move to but I’m really nervous about it. I find it hard to trust people now. It’s so disruptive and expensive. I’ve had to find money I haven’t got for the first month’s rent and the bond. The children have been upset. The stress of it makes you poorly.”
The Coallition government in 2014 published a report Review of property conditions in the private rented sector
Rogue landlords were to be targeted in a new drive to stop people being ripped off when they rent a flat or house. The ambitious package of proposals will ensure England’s 9 million private tenants:
- avoid hidden fees from unscrupulous letting agents
- get proper protection from rogue landlords
- can request long-term rental deals that cut costs and provide stability for their family
- feel confident to demand better standards and management of their property by landlords
Local authorities are starting to tackle the problem.
In Torbay this year 25 housing related notices have been sent out and a formal letter – a notice that works must be undertaken or a legal notice will be served – have been issued 102 times, that’s about 20 a month or 1 every working day. The council is:
- Successfully prosecuting a landlord who was providing particularly poor accommodation to a number of vulnerable tenants
- legal action to require the sale of sub-standard properties in cases where money owed to the local authority remains unpaid
- Undertaking formal recorded interviews under caution with four landlords for alleged breaches of housing legislation
- Carrying out targeted inspections of some of the Bay’s worst properties and in doing so securing necessary improvements
- Serving more legal notices on landlords in the last four months than in the whole of 2012 to secure essential works to their properties to improve standards.