Propertymark slams Shelter for its ‘appalling’ portrayal of letting agents

Nathan Emerson
Nathan Emerson

Propertymark has issued a furious response to Shelter’s new advertising campaign mocking letting agents.

In the ‘satirical’ video, the fake letting agent, played by comedian Rory Marshall, relentlessly tries to rent out properties to prospective tenants, in what Shelter claims reflects the raw deal so many renters are getting in the private rented sector.

But following the new video created by Shelter depicting a fictitious agency, ‘Only Choice Lettings’, Propertymark has publicly called out Shelter, defending agents.

Nathan Emerson, Propertymark CEO, issued this statment: “Shelter’s newest attack on letting agents is appalling. Their war on the private rented sector is one of the main reasons why tenants are now faced with very little choice, which is nonsensical given it is the country’s second largest tenure and they want to end homelessness.

“Shelter also wish to enhance standards in the sector, but 83% of tenants state they are satisfied with their properties and recent ONS figures show that investment in repairs and maintenance to private accommodation has seen all-time highs over the past 18 months. This is in stark contrast to the social sector that has seen investment in repairs and maintenance at the lowest levels since records began over the last two years.

“The private rented sector is regularly called upon to support the social housing sector, yet its value is being overlooked, undervalued and now ridiculed.

“Thousands of agents take pride in their work, are passionate about providing a good service and go above and beyond for tenants. Shelter’s narrow-minded attack undermines those professionals who work hard for their landlords and tenants.

“If Shelter truly wanted to ‘fix’ the ‘broken rented system’ they would engage with the sector to understand how to recognise good agents whilst removing the minority of bad ones.

“If Shelter supported us in our calls for the Regulation of Property Agents the sector may get some workable, tangible results.

“Letting agents want to see rogue agents that bring them into disrepute removed, Shelter want to see rogue agents removed. We have common goals to see a high standard sector, but that goal will not be realised in a childish war.”


Agents ridiculed in new ‘satirical’ video ad launched by Shelter


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  1. Robert_May

    “If Shelter truly wanted to ‘fix’ the ‘broken rented system” they don’t;  there will always be someone aggrieved at being  served with a section 8 notice or who cannot accept their assured shorthold tenancy has come to an end. Those people will fight moving out if someone else is prepared to fight their case while being paid their hourly rate, paid for by someone who’s been duped into believing they are helping to fight homelessness.


    It’s cynical half truth marketing that trades off people’s desire to help those less fortunate than themselves


  2. Will2

    A rogue so called housing charity?

  3. Jonathan Rolande

    Well said Nathan. This ‘us v them’ attitude is very unhelpful but unfortunately it gets attention and therefore results for Shelter. The sooner everyone realises the landlord/tenant relationship is actually a partnership, the better.

  4. Root1

    Shelter has regretfully made itself and enemy of the PRS. It gets more estranged with each passing year. Its well meaning donors should stop funding it until they are realistic about a true strategy to improve their policies. Or, there should be a dissection of its funds so that all the money goes to the homeless side and not the landlord / agent bashing department.
    They have an imbalanced view of the professional PRS. They are not interested in fixing anything. In fact it suits them to make it worse as is proven by their lobbying leading to a gross reduction of stock available. Thus reducing competition, thus driving rents up, thus playing into the hands of rouge landlords. This filters down the chain to the the “truly” homeless.
    They should spend less time listening to “stories” and more time in agencies with us. Come in, spend a week here?
    Never in my 25 years has any shelter agent ever come to us and say let me experience your world for a week. This disgraceful video just displays they now have imbeciles giving the orders. Spend just one day in a decent agency and you will see dedicated staff (often getting paid less than the tenants they serve) , warning tenants about why storage heaters can be expensive to run or why they should not be considering living in a 1960’s ex -council 2 bed flat with 4 kids as the condensation will be a nightmare!!!
    We spend more time talking people out of renting a property than the other way round. For that, we often get lambasted on google/social media. You really cannot win. Stock in our area is at its lowest in 15 years in an era where Shelter is more prominent than ever?
    Maybe they (Shelter) should hear the story about a high end professional that rented a grade 2 listed lodge before the pandemic. He did not want to run the open fires (it had Dimplex quantums too) and called in the council to cry fuel poverty and invoke the HHSRS, excess cold etc etc  on a widower landlord in her 80’s. He earns over 80k a year. The property is now to be sold and he cry’s homelessness!!. NO he has simply ruined it for every other tenant that could of lived there. He is not homeless, his options are infinite. The property has been let for 40 years! How would shelter view this?
    Or maybe they should hear about the tenant I have just been dealing with that has mental health issues. His landlord is currently picking up the bill for a £2400 fire door that got smashed in by the police because his brother called the them thinking he had committed suicide. He was not there but did go on to make further attempts on his own life. He is currently in hospital and will be homeless after treatment as he surrendered his home. The elderly residents in the block were pouring into my office petrified asking what we can do? Believe me, there’s great charity out in the world but not much when the fire is on your own doorstep. Where were shelter? making a snotty video that’s where.
    This charity should concentrate on the genuinely in need and are a danger to themselves and others with childish moves like this. This video might be funny if the people they try to help were not the ones that they harm every time. Their utterly skewed lobbying has resulted in RENTS RISING AND STOCK FALLING EVERY SINGLE TIME.
    Sadly the rhetoric of demonising landlords or agents fits with the governments strategy of buying a vote here, there and everywhere. The other parties are the same or worse.  
    Shame on you shelter and the invite stands – come work with me for a week and see what the real PRS looks like and not your staf-lets flats absurdity.  Don’t make an enemy of the good guys.  

    1. Jonathan Rolande

      Excellent comment Root1. The PRS has a major image problem bad agents and landlords are in a tiny, tiny minority. Propertymark have started to address this but hopefully they and others will do much more to redress the imbalance of perception versus reality.

      If you aren’t already, you really should start shouting about all of this wherever you can.

  5. Woodentop

    It shouldn’t be any surprise to anyone within the lettings industry that Shelter campaign has stooped to this level of depravity. I think it says much about the person and mind set of who is head of the charity and time that they were taken to task and should resign immediately.


    Shelter should be stripped of its charity status. It has turned into nothing more than a personal vendetta towards the lettings industry as  a whole hiding  behind the cloak of helping those in need. Completely ignore the good work that is being done and turned into nothing more than a hate campaign …. just the sort of attitude one shouldn’t be giving an organistra donations to, in particular public money. They are no longer fit for purpose and are directly responsible for the continuing decline in housing availability and the vast financial loss to landlords and agents, because of their iniquity.


    They do not behave like a charity ………  A ‘charity’ works for the good of all.

  6. PossessionFriendUK39

    i believe PropertyMark  should seek legal advice over defamation,   seek its legal costs and a Publicly broadcast aplogy ( all paid for by Shelter.

    My advice would then be for PropertyMark to write to every financial sponsor of Shelter,  outlining the above and its total cost,  to highlight how  ‘ charitable  [sic]  ( and Govt Tax-payer )    funds  are being used.

    1. AcornsRNuts

      I have emailed the link to my MP and await his response.  We all need to do somthing rather than just compain on PIE or LAT.

      1. PossessionFriendUK39

        @AcornRNuts   –   what landlords need is an equivalent to the  Renters Reform Coalition,  where 33 organisations have joined together.

        Landlords need All regional groups – associations, to join with others in the industry including portals like Property118 and PropertyTribes,  and Agents –  Property Mark.

        It should be Everybody in the industry  joined against the Renters Coalition. !!

  7. MickRoberts

    Great words Nathan:

    He says  “Shelter’s newest attack on letting agents is appalling. Their war on the private rented sector is one of the main reasons why tenants are now faced with very little choice, which is nonsensical given it is the country’s second largest tenure and they want to end homelessness.

    I’m biggest Benefit Landlord in Nottingham, Shelter & Polly & Head solicitor knows who I am, not verbally spoke to me once. I’ll still Welcome ’em with open arms. As I am no longer taking Benefit tenants, if they wish to come prosecute me, please do. Let’s get it out in the open. And when they do prosecute another Letting Agent or Landlord, that’s another 1000 Landlords that say Ooh what’s going off here then, I’m not taking Benefit UC tenants any more.

  8. NotALandlord

    I’ve been reading these articles for some time now as my phone has been suggesting them to me.  As my username says, I am not a landlord but very much a tenant.

    Personaly, I think some of the comments are laughable frankly.  The video from Shelter has clearly struck a nerve but it is quite obviously satire, even if some elements can be seen in real life, and that’s the thing, much as landlords and letting agents complain, the video is too true.

    Now, are ALL letting agents like that? Of course not, but enough are.  Are all tenants like you complain about? Of course not, but some are.  Thing is, a bad tenant can easily be gotten rid of and money recouped, a bad landlord simply looks for another victim to fleece.

    I’ll share some examples of landlords I’ve experienced over the years.  Social and private.  Left the army with a job, house sorted.  Made redundant a while later, landlord found out through a conversation and next day had a S21. Council sorted us out fairly quickly but did spend time in a hostel where ladies outside were asking men, including me once, for “business”.

    Fast forward a few years, and relationship breakdown saw me homeless again, while a student and a single parent. Nobody’s fault for relationship ending but hostel was horrendous, clearly run for minimal cost and maximum profit by preying on the most vulnerable in society.  I was one of the lucky ones, I’m reasonably intelligent and did what I could, yet that place nearly broke me.  Got a home but the (different) council cocked up and had my daughter listed as my wife! So only ended up with a too small place but made do.  Finished uni, had to go private as work took me a couple hundred miles away again. Fine for a couple years. But a storm knocked off several roof tiles letting in the weather. Reported to letting agent. Six months later, still not fixed. Holes in roof big enough that you could walk in attic and see without turning any lights on!  Ceiling in two bedrooms now making the bedrooms uninhabitable.  Letting agent eventually tells me their maintenance team won’t be doing the work because the landlady lives in France and can’t afford it.  Where exactly was my rent money going?

    I moved in with a new lady shortly after this,  which was a mistake as it turned into an abusive relationship that I struggled to get out of, but when I did, the only reason I was sorted by the council, after sofa surfing with two teenagers for two months, was because my boss happened to be Deputy Leader of the council.

    I’m now married to someone else and we gave up that council property because we started a business in her hometown twenty miles away from where we lived. Again, private.  Absolutely fine until the pandemic.

    Landlady called us in tears that she had to sell up and needed to move in to do some work and sell the house. Bookkeeping friend tells me that’s to avoid capital gains tax by selling a “main home”. She did indeed move in. Her own home was put on Airbnb for THREE GRAND PER WEEK!!! At the end of the summer, our old house was advertised on Facebook again for several hundred pounds a month more than what we had been paying, not for sale as we had been told. Now, I imagine the landlady did indeed intend to sell originally, but the extra money she received during the summer made up for it so she is able to keep raking in the money from her property for minimal cost.

    That’s not to mention the letting agents I’ve spoken to over the years who have basically ignored me based on how I present.  Walk into an office in shorts and t-shirt (it was hot!) get snubbed.  Walk into same office in shirt and trousers, agent can’t be helpful enough.

    Then I have stories from friends that I have personally seen and the state of houses that they have lived in, and you feel like you have no options and yet all we hear is how hard done by landlords are.

    Landlords aren’t the ones who are made homeless every year or are struggling to make ends meet.  At the end of the day, despite the costs, being a landlord is about making a profit, I don’t think many landlords are in it for the good of society but comments on these pages would have people thinking that all landlords are completely philanthropic and not interested in making any profit at all.

    Everyone is making our that when a landlord sells up, that taking a property out of the market leaving us with less choice when actually a landlord selling means that someone somewhere is coming out of a rented property letting another one onto the market at the end of the day.

    What’s causing the lack of rentals where I live is not landlords giving up, it’s holiday lets.  My last house, like I said, landlady said she wanted to sell, but across the road were two properties that were on Airbnb and spent about half the year empty. Across the road from where I now live, there is a family home on Airbnb, again spending about six months of the year empty but being rented out at over £100 per night! Some parts near where I live, homes are empty for even more than six months of the year. Yet, if you listened to these pages, the fault solely lies with Shelter. I think not.

    1. Jonathan Rolande

      That’s really interesting and great to hear things from beyond the bubble people in the trade are in. My issue with the ad and much of what Shelter says and does isn’t that it is false – there are of course issues in the sector with agents and landlords – but that it polarises the situation even more.

      I suppose if you consider, for balance a property organisation releasing a video from their point of view showing tenants defaulting on rent or not passing on money received in benefits, scheming to set up a cannabis farm in the loft or causing damage far beyond the deposit amount, there would rightly be an outcry that it is discriminitory and unfair – that it portrays a minority of tenant’s behaviour as normal.

      I am not a letting agent anymore but I was for 20 years and I now deal with them all the time. They have a really tough job walking a line between landlord and tenant and I am yet to meet one who is anything like those portrayed. Any that are must likely be outside of regulations which are very tight for agent and landlord.

      Letting is a partnership between landlord and tenant – something that I hope all parties will begin to realise as times start to get tougher for all.

    2. Woodentop

      What is Shelter doing with charity £donation’s to make ‘The video from Shelter has clearly struck a nerve but it is quite obviously satire’. Why didn’t they do one on the good landlords and agents providing excellent housing? As to your comment the ‘right look’ … well that was brought about because of the antics of bad tenants and the likes of Shelter doing their damned hardest to protect them. Its  a peoples business and just like going for a job interview, if you can’t be bothered … why should the landlord just take your word and want you? 40,000 a year possession orders is more than shorts and 


      ‘Thing is, a bad tenant can easily be gotten rid of and money recouped, a bad landlord simply looks for another victim to fleece’.

      Nonsense on all counts and really sums you up.

    3. MickRoberts

      Thing is, a bad tenant can easily be gotten rid of and money recouped, a bad landlord simply looks for another victim to fleece.

      If that was the case, you’d have a lot more choice & rents would be cheaper. Some tenants can live in house rent free for 2 years cause of the Anti Landlord rules. Next time he don’t take a chance on people like yourself that don’t want to wear a suit to get a home.

      Everyone is making our that when a landlord sells up, that taking a property out of the market leaving us with less choice when actually a landlord selling means that someone somewhere is coming out of a rented property letting another one onto the market at the end of the day.

      That’s not the case either, many sell to homeowners. And u can be assured, the next Landlord tightens his belt & doesn’t give anyone a chance, he’s super picky.

      And holiday Lets, this is where Section 24 Tax (Google it) forced landlords down this route, so again less houses for u.

      It’s a shame you’ve had your bad letting agents. I’m biggest Benefit Landlord in Nottingham & my current tenants are brilliant. Most paying 40% below market rent. However if they go, I’m looking after number 1 & selling or charging what I can get as I have no loyalty to the next tenant, I’m not a charity. I’m a business. Govt & Councils have wrecked supply demand for renters. I have no competition.

  9. AnnaBee

    Having been a tenant and knowing many people who are tenants, the Shelter advert is very realistic for many. Obviously, this has hit a nerve with agents and landlords, but then it is something you should start taking on board. Claiming that Shelter have it in for you all, and therefore that is why tenants are getting a rough deal now, is a very pathetic excuse. We are talking about homes for real people here, this is not a game for tenants, as it seems to be for agents, it is about the basic need for shelter!! Where I live, agents are now encouraging applicants to bid against each other, for properties not even worth the initial marketing rent. I thought the best outcome would be to secure the most responsible applicant for a property! But NO, the agent clearly is after getting the tenant who can pay the most, extortionate as that amount might be! So don’t delude yourselves that Shelters advert misleads people, because it doesn’t, it shows the reality, as a great many tenants know through experience. I would like to think there are some agents with integrity, but the fact is there are many without conscience, regardless of your hurt feelings!!


    1. Jonathan Rolande

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. There is too much demand and not enough supply so like most things in life, when that happens it drives up prices. Please remember that the agents are paid only by the landlord to provide a service. It is not up to them to take moral high ground – imagine if you were an owner of a rental and got a call from your agent saying…

      “Hi Anna, glad to say your house is let – we got £800 a month. Funny thing is we also had offers from other great tenants at £850 and even £900 but we refused them for you as they were over the asking rent and we don’t like that kind of thing.”

      The agents usually keep about 8% of rent to manage a letting so in this case the difference to them is £8 a month on the extra £100 – really not worth the hassle. On average commission the negotiator might see about 50p a month extra in their pay packet. Agents simply reflect what the demand is and what people are willing to pay and pass that info on to the owner. They are middlemen/women only – that is often an insult but in this case it is a defence.

      I wish everyone would try to see things from the other person’s viewpoint but that’s politics I guess!

      1. LRC10

        This is an important point to mention.

        It’s always portrayed as the “Greedy Estate Agent” yet as you mention, it makes very little difference to a negotiators commission.

        Negotiations take place in every industry, Estate Agents are just an easy target.

    2. Woodentop

      Shelter advert is very realistic for many.   
      Is it, what about those that it doesn’t apply to? and you wonder why landlords are leaving the market and making it even more difficult for tenants and that can certainly put on Shelters mantelpiece. Your little bit of experience does not come close to the real story.

    3. MickRoberts

      That is Shelter wrecking the supply for u. Plenty of supply & your rents would be cheaper.
      Govt & Councils want New Build standards on a 2008 Benefit rent. It doesn’t work like that. They pricing tenants out the market. U wait till EPC to a C comes in.

    4. PossessionFriendUK39

      @AnnaBee     83% of tenants are satisfied !    (  By the way,  how long have you worked for Shelter,  and how many people do they provide accommodation for ?  )-  end of.
      This is  very much  ‘minority -report’ and divisive. The Tenants that suffer from these tactics are the 80%  Plus who lawfully adhere and abide by their Tenancy agreements. Renters groups support the minority of Freeloaders, at the majority of Good tenants detriment.
      The biggest enemy of Most tenants,  aren’t landlords who they’re satisfied with, –  but so-called  Rogue Tenant support groups.

      1. MickRoberts

        Very good words Chris, all my tenants are brilliant & they now can’t get anywhere cause of the bad tenants & the renters support groups. They suffering, I’m still earning. Something going wrong there.


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