A letting agent has written to B&Q to express her concern at its support of Shelter.
Debbie Cooke’s letter follows others warning the chain store of a planned boycott in protest at its backing of a ‘landlord bashing’ organisation.
Cooke’s letter, to corporate affairs director Nick Lakin, sets out an example where she claims Shelter’s last-minute intervention on a technicality prevented a landlord from regaining possession of a property from ‘tenants from hell’.
Cooke told B&Q of the landlord, Donny, who owns a restaurant above which is a three-bedroom flat.
Last year, he put in a mother and adult daughter, who he had met as customers of his restaurant. They told him they were looking for somewhere to live as their ‘terrible’ landlord was looking to evict them.
Donny thought they seemed nice people and took them on as tenants, naively without any checks.
A few months later, the tenants stopped paying rent, despite many promises and being in full-time work.
As the rent included council tax and utility bills, the landlord found himself having to pay for these.
Cooke’s letter tells B&Q: “Shelter would have you believe that the ‘rich’ landlord could afford to supplement this pair, but that can’t be further from the truth.
“Donny works as a taxi driver by day and then runs his restaurant by night. He depends on the rent from the flat to help him pay the rent for the whole building which includes his restaurant.
“He is now financially struggling as a result of seven months with no rent coming in.”
Cooke’s letter also says that the tenants display anti-social behaviour, including fighting, and have refused access for maintenance and gas safety checks.
Cooke’s letting agency helped Donny serve a Section 8 notice.
“The court case took place in October. Unfortunately the tenants had contacted Shelter and their legal representative turned up and raised a minor technical issue with the notice which meant that eviction was not granted – the judge needed time to look into what Shelter had raised.
“So it was adjourned even though a defence wasn’t filed, and Donny was ambushed with an irrelevant matter of protocol.”
As a result the tenants are still in the flat, with the next court hearing listed in a few weeks’ time. They currently owe over £5,000 in rent. Meanwhile Donny will have to pay for legal representation at the next hearing, in case Shelter is once again present.
Cooke points out that even if the next hearing results in an order for possession, the chances are that the landlord will have to pay for a bailiff: “Donny will be around £10,000 out of pocket by the time the tenants are evicted and he gets his flat back.”
The letter goes on: “Make no mistake, these are tenants from hell. It is not right that a decent, hard-working landlord should find it so difficult to evict them.
“It is not right that a charity such as Shelter should automatically take the tenant’s side, no matter how badly they behave, leaving the landlord in a dire financial position.”
Cooke ends by suggesting that B&Q support the homeless charity Crisis instead, and begs that the business doesn’t just listen to Shelter but to those in the private rented sector.
* In an era of well-documented protest which could hurt small businesses, we have changed the name of the landlord and omitted the name and location of the letting agency. EYE has spoken with the individual letting agent who tells us that she had no idea that Shelter would appear at the last court hearing. She believes that the technicality raised by Shelter is invalid and felt that the Judge was exasperated at the postponement but had no choice.