Campaign is too politicised

FOLLOWING Mr Tomisson’s letter last week concerning the recent initiative, daftly branded ‘evict rogue landlords’, it can clearly be seen that the whole campaign to vilify private landlords has become grotesquely politicised and incredibly one-sided.

Much has been said of two groups in the campaign, bad landlords and exploited tenants, but there are two other groups in this discussion, decent landlords and lousy tenants. Mr Tomisson quotes statistics attesting to higher than average numbers of unfit properties locally and believes the private rental sector is largely to blame. Given that Hastings is one of the most deprived areas in the UK this is hardly ground-breaking news, though I doubt if the green lanes of Crowhurst, where the letter originates, reflects these statistics.

The whole campaign promotes the naïve and rather stupid perception that all private landlords control streets full of dilapidated properties, bullying and harassing tenants on a routine basis. Many landlords own one property for letting, possibly left to them as an inheritance which they do not wish to sell or bought as an investment in the absence of a decent pension.

Yes, some bad landlords leave properties in a dangerous condition but bad tenants often put properties in a hazardous and unhealthy condition. What of the tenant who moves into a clean and acceptable property, pays no rent, and leaves it some months later in such a disgusting condition that carpets have to be replaced and the property needs complete redecoration and repairs?

Would a decent landlord want to take these people on? It’s the landlord who bears the full cost of this deliberate damage and neglect. Perhaps some financial assistance from local government to aid with the cost of repairs would be appropriate since providing accommodation is in the least part a public service.

Some tenants attempt to dry machine loads of washing in small flats and cause mould and damp damage then complain to the council. Would these complaints be dealt with in an even-handed manner by an investigation and enforcement system with such a left-wing, anti-private sector bias as the writer seems to be advocating?

Remember that properties which HBC compulsory purchases under its ‘empty homes strategy’ are sold back into the private sector.

The flexibility given to landlords by Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act to serve notice on tenants after the expiry of a tenancy agreement and seek possession of the property may well have been misused by some landlords but it has prevented many bad tenants from simply ‘squatting’ in a property rent free for as long as they fancy abusing the already complex and costly eviction process. Once a landlord finds a good, reliable tenant surely they would want to keep them on.

Some letting agents do charge both landlord and tenant exorbitant fees and this situation should be examined and possibly regulated.

I believe it is becoming increasingly difficult to find reliable tenants willing to respect agreements and landlords are becoming more reluctant to take on tenants who rely on benefits due to recent changes. Housing benefits should be paid directly to the landlord to prevent or reduce rent default.

PETER BENSON

Quarry Hill

St Leonards