Last week’s report on BBC News did not do anything to improve the opinion of letting agents held by the vast majority of the British public. It focused on House(s) in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and the agents that oversee their being occupied. HMO’s fill an essential role in the housing system and are a classic example of a good deal benefitting all parties. Those who cannot afford an individual property have somewhere to live and those who provide such properties are rewarded well. That is the theory. As evidenced by last week’s report, some of the accommodation for which people, (who did not have any other choice) were paying were truly appalling. The letting agent that the news team accompanied to an HMO that was beyond disgusting was confronted by a neighbour of the property. The agent immediately apportioned the blame to the tenants but was countered by the neighbour saying that he was complaining about the poor state of the outside of the property, (the agent’s responsibility) that was a blight on the whole street. I understand that HMO provide accommodation for those at the bottom end of the housing market, who cannot afford to rent a place on their own, but let us at least begin with treating them as human beings. Their not being able to afford more than the rental for one room does not automatically mean that they will choose (and deserve) to live in filth. I appreciate that some tenants can be complete £$%*&” who treat the landlord and the property with utter contempt and trust me, this can be seen in the higher bracket, professional end of the market too. One property that Cheshire & Co managed comes to mind, that was rented by two doctors. All I can say is that no wonder the NHS has the problems that it does with MRSA. But how is an agent allowed to rent out a property that would keep Environmental Health and various other agencies going for a year in paperwork alone if it were anything other than an HMO?
All agents have recently been required to join a redress scheme; what form of punishment or penalties are in place for agents such as the one featured in the report? This is a problem that goes beyond political parties and I am fed up of attempts to control ‘Tory scum landlords’. I am sure that all landlords are not all cut from the same political cloth. The hypocrisy of it all was never better exemplified than by the late Michael Meacher MP. A far left politician who once described home ownership as a curse on our nation. It turned out that he was a property millionaire with 8 houses. Mmmm.