Shelter singles out agent in campaign to get supporters to phone a two-minute protest

Shelter has singled out one agency firm, which it names in an email to its supporters, asking them to telephone it and read out a two-minute script in protest at its alleged policy on tenant selection.

The firm has totally denied the claim.

Shelter is accusing major London firm ludlowthomspon of an apparent ban on letting properties to tenants on housing benefit.

Shelter’s email to supporters went out this week, despite ludlowthompson writing to Shelter last month firmly denying any discrimination policy.

In that letter Gemma Heaton, head of property services, says she can confirm that “ludlowthompson do not discriminate against renters who claim housing benefit. Indeed we currently have a number of benefit claimants [as tenants].

“All types of income, including benefits, are taken into consideration when assessing a tenant as part of the referencing criteria and this information will be used in conjunction with other references obtained.

“That said, in light of your comments and perception, we will take the opportunity to reiterate this message to staff.”

Yesterday ludlowthompson told EYE that all its staff have now undergone thorough retraining in order to reiterate company policy. It apologised that it did not effectively communicate this policy to all staff.

The firm also pointed out that the Government has recognised that there is an issue with some buy-to-let mortgage and insurance providers not allowing lettings to tenants where the income supporting rent is based on benefits.

Ludlowthompson was not included on a list of agents issued by Shelter last month when it set out to ‘name and shame’ those it believed were not accepting benefits tenants.

However, ludlowthompson does appear prominently on the Shelter site in another section.

This says: “We believe that Ludlow Thompson, the high street letting agent, is banning people on housing benefit from the homes it lets.”

It continues: “Ludlow Thompson has told us that this isn’t company policy, but our investigation suggests prejudice is widespread.

“It is not the only culprit – though we believe it to be one of the worst offenders.

“Ludlow Thompson will only stop this unacceptable behaviour if enough of us put pressure on it to change. Take a stand for renters – contact Ludlow Thompson to ask how it will stamp out housing benefit discrimination.”

A spokesperson for Shelter told EYE that ludlowthompson is so far the only agent to be targeted. However, she did not rule out that , urging them to call other agents could also find themselves being named in similar emails to Shelter supporters.

She said that while ludlowthompson had not been named in the press release about agents turning away benefits tenants, a second piece of research had apparently revealed that this is the firm’s alleged practice.

She said that there was already feedback coming in from Shelter’s supporters who have made calls to ludlowthompson.

The agents that were named after a mystery shopping exercise of 149 offices in six chains were: Bridgfords, Dexters, Fox & Sons, haart, Hunters and Your Move.

The email to Shelter’s supporters is below. The name of the recipient who contacted EYE with his concerns has been redacted, but he said he was alarmed by Shelter’s ‘guerilla’ tactics and appalled by the public naming of one agency.

String of top agents warned they could be breaking discrimination law as branches ‘ban benefits tenants’


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  1. ArthurHouse02

    I thought Shelter were a charity, there to help those in need? They are acting more like anarchists, seeking to cause chaos at every opportunity.

    Their actions in this matter appear to be somewhere between harassment and libel, and if i were Ludlow Thimpson i would be getting the police involved

    1. mrtickle

      They act like a cult.


      And not the good kind.

      1. pierce

        you spelt cult wrong

  2. Eyereaderturnedposter12

    Protesting against discrimination…by discriminating?!

    ”Can you spare a few minutes to call Shelter’s offices and end their feckless attempts to increase homelessness through ill-conceived policy lobbying?”

    1. RosBeck73

      It’s in their interests to both exacerbate and exaggerate homelessness – the bigger the problem, the more secure their highly paid jobs.

    2. Property Poke In The Eye

      This is getting out of hand.   The trustees of Shelter need to be given some of their own medicine.

      How would they like it if they were harassed outside their houses or called at their work places and abused.

      That’s what is going to happen if they keep this up.

      Insurance companies load premiums due to Benefits Claimants.   Are shelter going to protest outside Insurance HQ’s??

      Some Lenders also have clauses in their criteria which state must be let to professional tenants.


  3. Robert May

    I wonder how many people are capable of  understanding  and then explaining the statement of account for a single tenant on housing benefit that is paid 4 weekly, 6 weeks in arrears with  monthly top up.


    I suspect that there is not a single person in Shelter or the Department of Work and Pensions who can.


    If MP’s, civil servants and government lobbyists  can not  provide an explanation how an archaic  analogue book keeping  practice fits into a modern digital world in a way that tenants, landlords and agents can understand there is no way a commercial organisation is obliged to adopt a  system that is fundamentally broken or accept tenants that have no option than to be thoroughly confused by mathematics that are neither binary or decimal

    1. DarrelKwong43

      Universal Credit pays monthly RM, so assume that problem will not be issue when it is completely rolled out

      1. Robert May

        There is a fundamental accounting issue that has stigmatised HB tenants as, at best,incompetent but often much worse; feckless idiots who can’t manage money.The stigma of being DSS won’t go away  until it is recognised that it was the incompatibility of systems that  caused an issue many people cannot fathom.

        Universal credit is a political football.  Clive Betts and Labour see it as an evil Tory plot to keep the masses down at heel when in fact it is a simple and logical way to give government assisted tenants  the dignity and respect they deserve

        1. Property Money Tree

          …really?!  I decided to stop letting to HB tenants when a tenant who owed me 10 month’s rent (“my claim is being sorted out…blah blah”) without paying me anything, bought her 4yr old son a brand new X Box console for Christmas that year.  I saw this on the 26th or 27th, and went straight to court on the 28th and started eviction proceedings (I had served all the notices when the problem first started).  By the time I got them out, In was 12 months’ rent out of pocket.  I have paid my dues!

      2. CountryLass

        I’m still wary of Universal Credit, simply as it has had so many issues at the start, with people having payments suspended or delayed without warning. In theory, the idea is sound, you give them your income information and circumstances, and they make a payment based on their calculations of the different benefits you are entitled to.


        Still don’t see why people can be on Jobseekers for years though… If you haven’t found a job after 6 months or so, then you should have to do some sort of community service to keep getting it. Litter picking or suchlike. Doesn’t have to be at full-time hours or anything, just something to give back to the community. Groundskeeping in local parks?

        1. Robert May

          I’m not concerning myself about the personal circumstances of those  who have help from government paying for their accommodation. My point has always been the system is against them whether or not they  can or can’t, want or don’t want work.

          Dignity and respect is a strong and valuable starting point & motivator. If that is denied from the outset because of process and prejudice nothing will ever get resolved.

          1. CountryLass

            I agree, the housing benefit system is atrocious as it stands. I had to explain to my Accounts department earlier, that the reason I don’t want the payments to come directly to us, is because the Landlord is then the one that will have to pay it back if, deliberately or not, the Tenant has been paid incorrectly. To my mind, it is better to risk arrears and chase a tenant for rent (through court if needed) than to suddenly have the council turn around and demand 6/12/18 months rent back in one go.

            The jobseekers thing is just annoyance at the people (including a member of my extended family) who claimed jobseekers for years, without ever really searching for a job. It was many years ago, but it still rankled…

  4. smile please

    So what if they do ban people on housing benefit. You get more problems with tenants on HB.

    Shelter seem to have struck a deal with the government that they do not mention social housing as long as they get away with landlord and agent bashing.

    1. Ostrich17

      Approx. £ 25 billion per annum spent on housing benefit  – more than enough to solve the “housing crisis” by building more social housing !

      1. singlelayer

        Build them and GIVE them to the benefit tenants. At least the property and all its upkeep will be in the tenant’s hands and not a drain on other resources (plus it would mean there’s nobody left to blame when that goes wrong too because they can’t afford the costs of basic repairs, let alone replacing a knackered boiler, for example).

      2. Home Provider

        Ostrich17, where would HB recipients move to if the £25 billion was diverted into construction?
        Most of this amount goes to social landlords.

        1. Ostrich17

          Home Provider

          It would need an additional injection of cash to start the ball rolling. As new social housing came on stream, the rental income would offset the borrowing cost and the HB bill would fall.

          Could  be done over a five year period – particularly if you used LA Bonds (paying a decent rate of interest) issued to Joe Public.

          How many people are sitting on cash deposits of £10k/£50k/£100k + earning peanuts?

          You have to conclude that successive governments simply do not want to solve the problem. The HB has rocketed as the number of LA houses has fallen in the last 40 years.




          1. Gromit

            “You have to conclude that successive governments simply do not want to solve the problem. ”


            They want to help the BTR brigade who are big Tory donors, and dish out fat-cat non-exec Directorships to their Government ‘friends’ when they stand down from office.

          2. Home Provider

            Ostrich 17
            Your first comment “Approx. £ 25 billion per annum spent on housing benefit  – more than enough to solve the “housing crisis” by building more social housing !” is sophistry, intended  to deceive the dull-witted into believing that the £25 billion could somehow be switched into property construction instead.
            Your second comment undermines your first by confirming that new money would be needed for construction, and you do not expect it to come from the government.  So it wouldn’t be the current £25 billion, and it wouldn’t be an extra £25 billion from the taxpayer.
            However, the idea that Joe Public would voluntarily give his savings to local authorities so that they could build houses to let at low, subsidised rents to low-paid or jobless tenants is fantasy.  Or do you plan to nationalise the public’s savings?
            £16 billion a year of housing benefit goes to social housing tenants.  How will building more social housing reduce that element?  Are the social landlords going to start undercutting each other to attract HB tenants?
            In fact, the reverse is happening – housing associations are rejecting applicants on benefits.  But David Orr of the NHF, the housing associations’ trade body, and Polly Neate of Shelter have combined to distract attention from this by blaming the private rented sector exclusively for discrimination.
            And the private sector’s share of HB will be going down as well because landlords have had to raise their rents to pay the increase to HMRC under George Osborne’s lunatic levy on mortgage interest, or Section 24 for short.  HB tenants cannot afford the higher rents and are being replaced by people who can.
            So there will be a substantial reduction in housing benefit in future.  Unfortunately, the cost of “temporary accommodation” for the thousands who have been made homeless will massively exceed this saving.

            1. Ostrich17

              I merely pointed out that £25 billion (one years HB expenditure) was more than enough to solve the problem – you suggested that it would be diverted into construction.

              I did not say that Joe Public would give his savings – LAs would issue bonds paying an attractive rate of interest to secure the funding required to build social housing.

              However, there is nothing stopping the government funding it as borrowing costs are at record lows.

              The question, as always, is does the political will exist to tackle the social housing crisis?






  5. bridget

    We are agents, not social housing. We act on instructions from our landlords and if they request no housing benefit because it a) Isn’t allowed for their buy to let mortgage, b) their insurance doesn’t allow it, c) The referencing company don’t take it into account so they don’t pass referencing, (and they can’t get a guarantor), d) have had bad experiences where the tenants can’t find other accommodation at the end of the tenancy and a council tell them to stay put until eviction (costing thousands).

    Add to this the fact that the landlord will soon be paying for the referencing themselves (as Shelter have helped get tenant fees banned!) so don’t want to take the chance that they don’t pass and they have to pay again for another tenant and you can see why it is a lot easier for a landlord to only go ahead and reference someone who they believe to be working and can afford it, as well as fulfilling the terms of their mortgage/landlords insurance.

    Perhaps we should all make a two minute call to Shelter to explain to them why they are totally wrong in assuming we are all just being cruel to benefits tenants for the fun of it!! They really need to get their facts right before making wild accusations.

    1. Will

      Bridget, well put.

      1. Deltic2130

        Yes Bridget, was just about to say some similar things myself. As a landlord I couldn’t care less if Shelter ‘outed’ me as a landlord who doesn’t take benefits! I don’t! So I wouldn’t want an agent I’d employed wasting my time by sending me tenants I won’t be taking.

        But don’t worry. Help is at hand. I hear Shelter are a) about to start housing every benefit tenant they can get their hands on, b) are about to launch a phone-hate campaign to local authorities whose rent increases in the social sector have massively outstripped the private sector, and c) will be attacking many HAs who now… don’t take people on benefits!

        Hypocritical cu… !!!

    2. Robert May

      Shelter lost its way under Cambbell Robb who was effectivley Milliband’s mucker. As a result Shelter has transitioned from respected charity to a government lobby group with a strong left wing bias.
      The numbers Shelter put out have for a long time been horribly manipulated and contrived but they are simply fighting hard to resolve a crisis that even the top economist in the country doesn’t properly understand.

      1. JMK

        Shelter have links to the Fabian Society which is about as socialist as you can get.  If you read up on Fabians it seems they’re quite happy to sacrifice others to achieve their long-term socialist goals.  It seems to me that Shelter are of a similar mindset and are campaigning endlessly for change that they know will hurt tenants.


  6. Another Brick in The Wall

    Shelter wanted to take me to court when I evicted my HB tenants for being four months in rent arrears. Those arrears almost forced me to be repossessed. Had that happened I would have needed a roof over my head for some shelter.

    They were vicious in these circumstances and victimised me. I had a legal agreement with a tenant which I adhered to, yet I’m the one who was being punished.

    Previously I had donated monies to Shelter but no longer do. I suggest they look at the law and not those that work hard, try to do the right thing and get punished.

    The Government don’t like private landlords, this is becoming apparent.

  7. Rayb92

    It’s a total disgrace that shelter can get away with this

    1. JMK

      If I was a senior bod at Ludlow Thompson I would already have submitted a formal complain to the charities commission.

  8. JMK

    May I suggest that people read this, a bit of an eye-opener in my opinion….

  9. Peter

    Maybe being on Shelter’s list is no bad thing!

    Those agents should send out a press release or advertorial to the various media channels they use and also on MA’s to promote they are on the list; it’s a way to get new landlords.



  10. DarrelKwong43

    this shower are funded in part by taxpayer grants, national lottery money and companies like Nationwide and British Gas.

    Maybe I will phone Nationwide and complain I cannot get a mortgage from them because my income is part funded by benefits.

    Intimating innocent employees is a new low for shelter


    1. Peter

      Interesting. By the same token, Shelter should be pressing mortgage companies to accept those on LHA who want to buy a property. If LHA income is sufficient to cover rental payments based on income multiples, why not a mortgage?

      1. Property Money Tree

        …because LHA changes, and is often withdrawn with no notice.  Also, some of those on LHA are not financially responsible.  There is a reason why a lot of landlords won’t let to them…

    2. JMK

      And many more such as Birmingham Midshires (incredibly), B&Q, M&S, Nationwide, HSBC, etc, etc.

  11. jeremy1960

    I think that this is about as low as shelter can get.

    I have a couple of days off but when I return to the office I will be circulating a copy of this letter from shelter to every one of my landlords and every one of my tenants with a covering email. The content of my email is yet to be decided but there will be a suggestion that the shelter letter be forwarded to everyone within each landlord’s and tenant’s mailbox. It will also suggest that they each forward a copy to their MP and it will certainly suggest that any current support whether financial or volunteer be withdrawn until shelter are fully castigated and their funding from all commercial and government sources is withdrawn!

  12. Home Provider

    Shelter’s Director of Communication said on the Victoria Derbyshire programme on 22 August that Ludlow Thompson had written to tell Shelter that they do not have a blanket ban. 


    The recording is only available until 10.59 tomorrow.


    He said this about 1 hour 49 minutes in, towards the end of a discussion about Shelter’s ludicrous misrepresentation of the results of its own survey.  See 







    1. Home Provider

      Some of the above links do not work.  If you get an error message, just delete”/&nbsp:” from the URL and you will get the article.

  13. seenitall

    Its this sort of thing if targeted at say a small firm could damage them unjustifiably. Its totally wrong for Shelter to promote and instigate a nasty attack on an agent like this.

    Without a doubt if it happened to a small firm, threatened livelihoods and was another straw on their back it could tip an agent over the edge when they have done nothing wrong or illegal.       There is a lot of pressure on owners of agencies. One more which is really unjustified could be the end of it.

    There are only a few directions an agent may go if they feel they have reached the end – Some agents would fold, some may personally just end it all,  some may take a more robust and aggressive action against shelter.




  14. scruffy

    I think the naïve mugs at Shelter need to read these comments. We are all involved in housing, one way or another, and surely our industry’s default position would be to support a related charitable cause ?

    Such actions/campaigns will do Shelter no good, alienating those who could otherwise be their allies within the housing market. They are misguided in choosing an adversarial path against the wrong targets, i.e. those acting lawfully in the best interests of their clients. Recent landlord and tenant legislation (tenant fees etc) are riddled with unintended consequences for which Shelter should assume much responsibility.

    1. JMK

      I don’t believe they care scruffy.  They have long-term socialilst aims and are quite happy to throw the country’s tenants to the wolves in order to achieve them.

    2. JEL

      Well said… a few years ago we did a number of charity events for Shelter, looking back it makes me sick to think of the efforts we went to see what they are like nowadays. Problem is politicians listen to this lot.

  15. KByfield04

    Agents and landlords alike generally don’t have any opposition to HB tenants- were there a level playing field. The fact that rents are paid every 4 weeks in arrears as opposed to the standard monthly in advance is the first big hurdle. Then you have the fact that, if a claimant is found to have falsely claimed benefits, or the benefits/entitlements change, any over-paid HBs must be paid directly back to the council and the landlord must then pursue the tenant through the courts- for money they don’t have. Add on top of that the fact that if a tenant vacates a property ‘voluntarily’ (in line with contractual/S21 terms) they effectively forfeit their right to be re-homed on HB. This trifecta of problems is the real issue today.

    However Shelter, Generation Rent, ACORN and other movement groups choose to ignore these facts. Choosing not to lobby government and local council for the changes the sector needs and instead attacking agents and landlords alike. As we all know all t well, the media loooooove a good agent & landlord bash and are all too happy to regurgitate their one-sided argument riddled with holes. They regurgitate the ‘statistics’ wheeled out by these organisations without any thought or review for how the survey was structured, who it was sent to and how this has been amplified to create a ‘national statistic’.

    What is more apparent is that they have no interest in genuine dialogue to try an find a sensible middle ground- I have contacted all of these groups on multiple occasions suggesting a ‘meeting of minds’ involving agents, landlords, tenants and action groups to openly & sensibly debate the issues, the hurdles to overcome them and the best course of action to achieve that. Not once has any of them shown any interest what so ever.

    Increasingly it appears that, as long as they get media coverage, they appear to justify their existence and so that is their sole focus.

    About 5 years ago I popped in to Shelter HQ (just up the road from our offices) to discuss doing a charity partnership for a year where all tenant fees would go to them. Not only did they show no interest in the offer, they looked at me like the enemy. Sad times!

  16. Property Money Tree

    Whenever I sell, and make a profit, as a practicing Christian, I tithe.  With my last big sell, Shelter got the most of this tithe, with my church and another charity getting a third between them.  I have also encouraged everyone I know to support Shelter, but, no more after seeing that this is how they behave.

    Not all people on HB are bad, but in my experience, letting to them is a bad business strategy, and so I don’t- not any more.  Shelter  needs to wake up and smell the coffee!

    1. JMK

      Well said PMT.  You might be interested in a post I did on FB about Shelter…..

  17. Room101

    Dear Shelter,

    Please refund the £1000’s I raised for you which I was led to believe was going towards helping the homeless.  I would like to redistribute these funds to more worthy causes; you bunch of vile sycophants.

    Thank you.

    1. Robert May

      Shelter do not house the homeless, they are a political lobby group. If you would like to spit blood investigate what the Cheif Executive pays themself out of the money you have raised for them.

  18. smile please

    Saw a story on Facebook a couple of days ago.

    Tenant rents through the housing association, admitted she missed paying her rent start for September because she felt poorly and her daughter had started collage so wanted to give her some money rather than pay the rent.

    Housing association tried calling her and she did not answer, They called her at work – She deemed this harrassment.

    She said she had the money but was too poorly to pay it (how hard is it to log on?)

    Two days later and 2 weeks in arrears they knocked on her door and asked her to pay the outstanding debt – She again calls this harassment.

    She makes payment …… 2 days later they are back at her door as the payment did not go through …. again she is claiming harassment.


    This ladies and gentlemen is just one reason we do not accept housing benefit.

    1. CountryLass

      I know of a Tenant who came in to the office where I worked on the sales side, when she had been chased for late rent. She was crying and saying that she hadnt paid her rent as her dog was really poorly and she had used her rent money to pay the vet bill…
      I’m sorry, I love my pets too, but if I don’t have a roof over their heads and food to feed them, then I doubt they will be with me for long! Why is it some Tenants feel that paying their rent is optional? I’m fairly confident I’m a lot less ‘harrassing’ than the mortgage company would be if they owned a place!

  19. markus

    “Then you have the fact that, if a claimant is found to have falsely claimed benefits, or the benefits/entitlements change, any over-paid HBs must be paid directly back to the council and the landlord must then pursue the tenant through the courts- for money they don’t have.”

    THIS. This is what we have to push more and more, every time someone brings up HB and the PRS.

    The British public generally believe in fairness, and being held responsible for someone else’s debt/fraudulent actions is surely the definition of unfair.

    Of course, we all have advertising space, generally in A4 or A3 sized slots, in our windows. Maybe we should co-ordinate a press release that can take a slot up for those perusing our windows to alert them to Shelter’s behaviour?

  20. kittygirl06

    Shelter are a disgrace, many times they have been asked to work with landlords to house the homeless but will not.

    They only things they do is attack the  PRS.

    Landlords are condemned for taking Housing Benefit/UC in the media.

    Landlords are fed up with

    rec no money

    Trashed properties

    Councils C Advice Shelter telling tenants to remain until the bailiff

    Only believing the tenant and not bovering to contact the landlord

    If you want more landlords to take HB then let landlords be able to attach 3rd party debt order even when they have left the property.

    Instead tenants get away scot free because the court system is not fit for purpose.


    HMRC know the NI of everybody so if a landlord as a court order for damage and rent arrears they should be able to get HMRC to apply attachment of earnings.  This would speed up the court system and stop the tenants keep changing jobs once an order is applied to them.

    1. CountryLass

      But I agree with the attachment of earnings idea. For the life of me, I cannot understand why the different departments do not communicate. I had to claim benefits last year when my husband lost his job. I tried to keep everything as up to date as I could, but despite my best efforts, I didnt quite manage it. I’m now faced with having to pay back about £100 of what we were given, which was spent on food, bills and mortgage during the time when the main earner was no longer earning. We have managed to cut outgoings, Virginmedia went, we shop at Aldi and Farmfoods rather than Tesco and our luxury is a bottle of wine on a Friday. Things are much better now, but at the time, we needed that money. I didnt start claiming as soon as he lost his job as we hoped he would find a new one quickly. After a month, I started the process, when it looked like our savings were going to be called in to pay bills, rather than for emergencies.
      Surely HMRC and the benefits department could communicate?

  21. IWONDER36

    When a charity is not a charity, it must find ill-conceived ways of justifying its existence.

    Considering the millions raised, has it built any shelter?

    Are its own executives overpaid?

    Is there wastage?

    Why is a charity needed to the job that government should be doing?

    Why is that charity intent on squashing the PRS into submission, thus leading to fewer houses and more homelessness?

    Self-serving and pointless, but keep up the good work.

  22. PossessionFriendUK39

    A concerted effort needs to be made to set up an investigation group into Shelter. To publicly draw attention to its expenditure, to bring legal action against it for defamation, etc –

    Any interested volunteers out there ?


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