A letter to Andy Burnham

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I am sure I cannot be the only one who believes that when a politician such as Andy Burnham wants to make a stand, wants to persuade voters that he is a caring man of the people, concerned to make lives better, finds the words ‘Rogue Landlord’, not creeping out but being bellowed as an issue on which he wishes to make a difference.

Sad to say, Andy Burnham, Mayor of Manchester, has now joined that happy band. Ridding Manchester’s streets of the homeless would appear to many to be a big enough task, but no, he has chosen to take on those landlords whose properties do not meet an acceptable standard and who operate illegally.

Oh Mr. Burnham, by all means tackle those landlords who bring disrepute on the majority of decent landlords who often provide far better standards of accommodation than social landlords, but acknowledge the good work done by those who risk the assets accumulated for their old age, who become friends with their tenants, and almost certainly do far more for them than you or I would be prepared to do.

I don’t often bother writing to Politicians – their responses tend to be standard letters with hardly any reference to what I had written about, but I think I may do, along these lines, this time.

‘Dear Mr. Burnham,

I know you were a good and highly respected MP; I voted for you as Mayor on the recommendation of some of your constituents, who said you were hard-working, fair, and deserving of the greater responsibility that leading our city would entail.

I admire your stance on the homeless and hope that you are able to house those who currently sleep in our shop-doorways and huddle in bus shelters. So much in agreement. But Mr. Burnham, I am disappointed that you have followed so many others, down the path of castigating the ‘Rogue Landlord’ and pledging to take action on them.

As a Housing Professional, may I ask how you intend to do this? The cuts mean there are less staff to investigate when reports are raised. Have you spoken to many landlords? Have you seen the way tenants are sometimes prepared, no, I mean are responsible for, how they live?

Could I suggest that you acknowledge the really amazing work some landlords do and the lengths they go to provide decent properties of all types for the different people who approach them? I can tell you of landlords who let properties to alcoholics, to drug users.  More than one has found their tenant dead in their rooms; what about the incontinent tenants?  What about those with no deposit, no rent in advance, nothing to give the landlord any safeguard for what they have provided?

The many good landlords I know would be happy to see those landlords that do less than they ought brought to book, but they are rarely asked what they know. Tenants will go from one property to another and make their complaints known to the new landlord. In sympathy for their tenant, they will report to the local enforcement team – to be told we cannot investigate if the tenant has moved out. Ludicrous! The tenant is often too terrified to complain whilst in the tenancy, which it appears is the only time it will be investigated.

Get the good landlords on your side, ask them what they know. You may find that a more efficient way of learning what is happening in the private rented sector.’

I will let you know if I get a response.

For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon