Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'd Know It Anywhere -- the Smell of a Dodgy Landlord; the Accidental Landlord Victoria Whitlock Goes on a Campaign to Educate Tenants Who Don't Know Their Rights

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'd Know It Anywhere -- the Smell of a Dodgy Landlord; the Accidental Landlord Victoria Whitlock Goes on a Campaign to Educate Tenants Who Don't Know Their Rights

Article excerpt

Byline: Victoria Whitlock

SOME landlords are feeling a bit miffed about a new initiative by homelessness charity Shelter, because although the aim is to "out" rogue private landlords who harass tenants and rent out disgusting properties, good landlords think the campaign makes everyone with buyto-let property look bad.

Personally I'm all for getting rid of dodgy landlords, largely because the house next door to mine is owned by some of these rogues and it's a disgrace. The gutters are blocked, drainpipes are broken, the walls are damp, the window frames are peeling, the fence has collapsed into my garden.... Oooh, don't get me started.

Like many tenants, my neighbours appear woefully unaware of their rights. Having failed over the years to persuade the landlords to carry out repairs, they're struggling to maintain the property themselves with limited funds and zero DIY skills. When they finally got their hands on some cheap emulsion they haphazardly repainted the exterior and I now live next door to a vomityellow house that looks even worse than before.

A few years ago I contacted the landlords to point out that their gutters were overflowing and causing damp inside my house where the walls adjoin. I also pointed out that there was a foul smell at the rear of the property, which suggested the drains were blocked. These landlords, who own thousands of rented properties, told me the house was due for an overhaul within six months so I would just have to be patient.

I asked if the garden fence could be repaired in the meantime as there was no longer any boundary between my property and theirs. "Ha," they laughed. "Garden fences are at the bottom of our list of priorities."

I replaced the fence myself at a cost of about [pounds sterling]500, but the landlords refused me permission to mend the gutters on their house to prevent damp getting into mine. "Be patient," I was told. "We'll get round to it."

Six months later, when nothing had been done, I called yet again to ask when the work would begin. …

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