Landlords and the Olympics – again

June 30, 2012

Landlords Insurance

Yet again, landlords have been receiving some very unfavourable press* arising from allegedly forced and illegal evictions in London in order to cash in on the Olympics boom.

This story has re-surfaced several times over recent months and we might reasonably expect to see it several times more before the Olympics are done and dusted.

Although some of the stories, as in this case, appear to link it to the east side of London, other stories have indicated that it may be happening over a much wider area of south-east England.

There seems no obvious reason to question the assertion that some landlords may be behaving in a disgraceful and possibly illegal fashion, in an effort to rake in cash during the Olympics.  The money pressures involved may lead to huge temptations and it might be unrealistic to assume that not a single landlord will succumb.

In such cases, if their behaviour is legal but unethical, one might only hope that their decision proves to be flawed in the medium to longer term – after all, the Olympics only last for a shade over two weeks.

If they have acted illegally, then the tenants concerned can and perhaps should pursue their rights through the appropriate legal channels.  As the government minister cited in the report states, the penalties for illegal evictions can be severe.

There is, though, another aspect to these stories and that is the ongoing tendency, hopefully unwitting, in some quarters of the media to vilify landlords.

In many of these press stories, there is little or no effort to quantify the scale of the problem. For example, in the referenced article, the implication is that the problem is widespread but what does that mean in terms of real numbers?

Is this a question of perhaps a handful of landlords misbehaving or dozens, hundreds or even thousands? This is rarely, if ever, questioned nor are percentages speculated at.  Is this perhaps 0.05% of all landlords in London, 1% or 20%?

Just about every profession or occupation will have a small and typically entirely unrepresentative proportion of its members who behave reprehensibly.  This is no doubt true for landlords also.

Yet the ongoing reluctance of many news reports to inject this degree of objective balance into their articles continues to risk tarring, unfairly, vast numbers of landlords with the same brush.

It can only be hoped that future reports will make some effort to introduce a degree of balance and quantification into their reporting of this issue.  If this is a problem of mass exploitation then it would be useful to know.  If it is a case of a relatively few rogue individuals, then that information should also be presented in order to protect the reputation of the vast majority of landlords who conduct their business honestly and ethically.




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