Shelter complains to Boris Johnson about a lettings agency

Campaigning charity Shelter has made a remarkable attack on a lettings agency, accusing it of “an abuse of power” over its use of Section 21.

The attack was made in a demand from the charity to Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he follows through on his predecessor’s plan to scrap Section 21.

The surprise announcement about ending S21 was made in the dying weeks of the Theresa May administration, and was not expected by many in the industry – whether for or against the S21 provisions.

However now Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive, has sent an open letter to Johnson says: “Your predecessor took a vital step towards improving the lives of England’s 11m private renters when she unveiled plans to abolish ‘no-fault’ evictions. You can make these plans a reality by seeing through the crucial legislation a Conservative government has already committed to.”

And – perhaps mindful of the overt attempts by the Conservatives to woo younger voters who rent – Neate adds: “Doing so will not only make life better for a large number of people – it will build your credibility with a key group of voters, whose ballot papers may be critical in deciding the outcome of the next election.”

But then, in her letter to the PM, Neate takes a gloves-off swipe at a particular lettings agency saying: “It is horrifying that Harry Albert Lettings, reacted with impunity to the government’s consultation on ending ‘no-fault’ evictions by sending ‘no-fault’ eviction notices to six tenants. Such an abuse of power should have no place in this country.”

On July 20 Harry Albert Lettings and Estates, a Leicester agency, tweeted that:

“Well @Shelter will be pleased to know we put 6 section 21s in the post today, with an extended notice period because we’re not absolute arse holes and it isn’t the tenant’s fault that pressure groups and government are forcing this.”

Other Twitter users responded and then the agency replied, saying:

“Our job is to protect investments and part of this is balancing risk, so with the news of S21 being abolished, we’re minimising risk by evicting higher risk tenants. If they don’t like it, @mhclg or @Shelter will have their ears wide open for their complaints.”

And late last week, linking to a Landlord Today story about rents increasing following the introduction of the Tenant Fees Ban, the agency tweeted once more:

“No explanation from @shelter? Oh deary me. Quick to support tenant fee ban, shuts up quickly when agents up and down the country turn out to be right. #congratulations for making the very people you pretend to help worse off.”

Almost every section of the lettings industry – letting agents and landlords – has spoken out against the proposal to scrap Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, with many citing the shortcomings of the government’s alternative proposal, to speed up eviction processes via courts including in Section 8 of the same act.

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