Rogue landlords highlighted again

September 5, 2012

Landlords Insurance

Yet another news story* has arisen about a local authority’s attempt to crack down on what is described as a vast problem of illegal and unsavoury landlords.

The context of the story relates to immigrants and their exploitation by landlords who are housing them in slum conditions.

Whilst the news item is presumably accurate and all right thinking professional landlords will unhesitatingly condemn such practices, there is an underlying issue to consider here.

It is possible to look back to Victorian Britain to see stories relating to these sorts of malpractices.  The issue is also widespread and roundly condemned in the Edwardian period, the turbulent twenties, the hungry thirties and the austere 1940s and 50s.

In the swinging 60s the story received yet more national publicity following a number of major national scandals and documentaries. Since then there has been an almost endless succession of similar reports right through into the 21st century.

Many bystanders and professional landlords find it difficult to understand why our society has apparently found this problem to be insurmountable over a period of at least 200 years.

During the same timeframe we have conquered or at least massively reduced many social evils but this one seems impossible to sweep away.

The problem, of course, is that these landlords are very difficult to detect.  As the news story highlights, many immigrants, particularly those who are in the UK illegally, may be very reluctant to appeal to authorities when they are being exploited by these criminals who misleadingly called themselves landlords.

Yet even so, people living in squalid and downright illegal conditions, such as garden sheds, cannot be exactly easy to camouflage and hide away.  One therefore has to question why this practice appears to be relatively widespread, if you accept newspaper reports.

There appear to be two issues falling out of this:

  1. the detection of illegal landlords and their tenants;
  2. a greater degree of control and clarity of the legal responsibilities of all landlords.

Large numbers of landlords may be reluctant to consider yet further legal controls such as formal registration and inspections etc.  Yet they may be part of the solution.

Responsible landlords may welcome such schemes.  Taking steps to protect your business through formal registration may not be dissimilar to simply attending closely to insurance formalities or making sure that you have the best landlords contents insurance for your property etc.

In terms of detection and punishment, it may be necessary to ask the local authorities to invest more resources in trying to catch and deal suitably with these offenders. It might be effort well spent if it finally stamps out this great social evil.




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