Shelter is occasionally labelled as ‘anti-landlord’, this is absolutely not the case. We’re anti-rogue landlords, certainly. And yes, we campaign vigorously on private renting.
Private rented housing makes up a disproportionate share of the problems Shelter’s advisers deal with every day; our work gives us direct experience of the problems faced by people who rent privately. All too often our advisers witness shocking behaviour that can make renters’ lives a misery, which is why we focus on the elements that really need to change.
However, we fully recognise that there are a large number of good landlords out there and that these landlords are vital to the health of the private rented sector. The impact of a good landlord should not be underestimated. Someone who runs a good business can make a consumer happy. But a good landlord has the opportunity to transform a person’s life. Landlords provide homes. And the quality and stability of our home is crucial to our happiness and wellbeing.
Impact of a good landlord
The Shelter and Crisis project ‘Sustain’, which explored the long-term outcomes and wellbeing for homeless households who moved into the private rented sector, uncovered just how powerful a good landlord can be. It found that renters’ relationship with their landlord had a major influence on them and the way they felt about their home.
Participants in the study felt that a ‘good’ landlord was someone who promptly dealt with any issues in the property. Basic efficiency, and a swift response to renters’ concerns, dramatically improved their experience of the property.
‘I think my landlord is fantastic…. I can phone the landlord any time of day or night and he will have it done within 24 hours.’
In a couple of cases landlords had also helped tenants with filling in forms or Housing Benefit claims. For one participant, this help made the difference between paying her rent and not.
Good, responsible landlords can have a transformative impact on their tenant’s wellbeing. These landlords understand that they are providing someone with a home- not just generating an income.
Working with landlords
It is for precisely this reason that Shelter seeks to work with landlords. We want to make sure we understand what good practice looks like, and how it can be replicated. Equally, we want to ensure that any reforms we propose keep good landlords in the sector- and raise them above the rogues that blight their profession. For example, we provide advice on landlords’ responsibilities and often encourage the local authorities we work with to support good landlords in their area.
During the ‘9 million renters’ campaign we have sought to work with landlords as much as possible. We fully recognise that, in order for them to be meaningful, the reforms to Section 21 notices that we are proposing have to work for the good guys. There are plenty of ways that the private rented sector can be improved for both parties.
Last year, Shelter helped more than three million people, through online, phone, and face to face advice. We campaign so that we can improve the lives of the people we help. This means focusing on the really bad things that happen to them. But it also means working alongside the people that can have a positive impact on their lives.