We wish this was a joke...

Ever get the feeling people are talking about you behind your back? Or ever wondered what actually happens when you complain to your landlord or letting agent?

 Well Miguel found out first hand what both were like when his letting agent accidentally forwarded an email conversation he’d been having with Miguel’s landlord.

 This actually happened. And it’s pretty awkward.

Agent: I’ve told Miguel that you’re coming to the flat today for the boiler. Best say you’re the landlord’s brother that way he won’t get into banter regarding any flat issues.

 Landlord: I can just tell him I barely talk to you and that my wife deals with all of these issues directly. The lease is under her name so I can explain that she is responsible for the property and I’m just in town to help temporarily. I don’t think I have the latest key to the flat, haven’t been there in ages!

 Agent: I suggest you keep it simple and stick to my script and the job only. This is what I do for a living. He’s a fussy tenant with posh complaints. Makes things easier for us.

Sorry. Wait a second. “Posh”? Working boiler, windows without cracks, woodwork that isn’t rotting away – is it “posh” to want a decent, safe home?

 Landlord: I imagine this is about re-decoration and carpentry work? Shouldn’t be very much.

 Agent: Some woodwork just needs to be re-painted. Tell Miguel I told you about this issue and nothing else. He’s wanted a lot of things fixed and replaced, do not agree, I’ve said no to his requests, saved you thousands of pounds just last year.

 Landlord: Ok, thanks. I’d like to keep it that way.

Agent: Brilliant. Good idea to take your camera too, take photos to say you’re reporting recent damages to landlord so he’ll feel responsible for fixing. Kitchen cupboards especially, less work for you to do.

We wish this was a joke.

Miguel had caught his letting agency and landlord red handed. Not only trying to avoid their responsibilities with a bizarre cover story, but trying to intimidate him by taking photos of supposed “damage” to the flat.

All this when his energy company had found that his boiler was a dangerous fire hazard.

It is incredible just how blasé some agents and landlords can be about making sure the homes they rent out are safe to live in.

We’re not saying that every landlord or agent behaves in this way. We’re not even saying that the majority behave like this. But there are a minority of rogue landlords who wilfully neglect their tenants – leaving many of England’s 9 million renters in poor, often dangerous conditions, paying sky-high rents for a sub-standard service.

Miguel caught his agent and landlord out, and we’re so pleased he’s shared his story and taken a stand.

At Shelter, we hear these stories all too often. That’s why we’re campaigning to fix private renting for good. And you can help us win.

By Tom McCarthy and Rachel Wenstone

(You can read the rest of the story on Miguel’s blog, to see what happened when the landlord turned up at the property.)