A Landlord Slurry Of Awfullness Floods Untouched Over UK Preventive Barriers

photo of a rainbow over a cityscape
Rainbow Season photo by Corey Templeton is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Does that white apartment building have the perfect landlord?

Somewhere out there at the end of the renter rainbow, there exists a landlord pot of gold. Nobody has ever reached it. Most likely nobody ever will. It’s a little corner of earthly paradise where a twinkle-toed landlord responds instantly to even the most trivial request.

‘End of the Rainbow’ Examples:

Renter Request: Could you clean up the garbage area a bit?
Landlord Response: Hazmat-suited workers are out scrubbing the bins as I speak.

Renter Request: How about cleaning the outsides of the windows this year? I’d lean out and do it myself, except my 6th floor windows are painted shut.
Landlord Response: We have purchased the closest fire engine ladder truck under the current government ‘privatize-everything’ scheme. Hoses blasting your windows should drown out our conversation any minute.

Renter Request: And my painted-shut window problem?
Landlord Response: The paint-grazing mountain goat herds are all booked, but teams of trained squirrels are scampering up your very walls to nibble the windows free of paint.

Of course, in real life there is no such thing as a perfect landlord. It only makes sense, as many landlords are only human, like the rest of us.

Never mind social housing landlords, with their atrocious histories worldwide of allowing housing to decay while blaming the tenants. You only have to live in free-market rental housing to realize that all landlords occupy a rung on a praise scale that ranges from “the landlord seemed almost okay, this month at least” at the very top, downwards towards into the depths of depravity where “the landlord is the scum of the earth.”

It is at the lowest end of the praise scale that the governments of England and Wales have recently enacted legislation to ban the most atrocious landlords from renting to anyone, particularly those receiving government rent subsidies.

How is it working out?

Not well. In the year since a ‘banned’ list of landlords was instituted, not a single name has been added to the list, in spite of the usual horror stories of illegal landlord activities and unlawfully abused tenants.

Why should everyone be interested in this initiative? Unscrupulous, abusive landlords are not a British specialty. They exist everywhere, burnished by landlord association propaganda that relentlessly targets tenants as the cause of all housing trouble.

The British initiative is praiseworthy for its intent, if struggling to become effective. Other countries might well consider legislation that attempts to address the imbalance between the authority and often wealth (to hire lawyers) of landlords, and the vulnerability of tenants who may be struggling to afford a home.

For more on attempts in the UK to tackle this problem, read in The Guardian: Banned but still in business: law fails to stop rogue landlords