Campaigners take action against criminal landlords

Community activists in Edinburgh have launched a campaign today to lobby the City of Edinburgh Council for the effective enforcement of legislation against criminal landlords.

Research by Edinburgh Private Tenants Action Group (EPTAG) has found that no landlord has ever been struck off the landlord register, despite some landlords committing criminal offences against their tenants.

One Edinburgh based landlord, Mark Fortune, was recently convicted on October 12th for threatening his tenants with violence after they asked him to pay for repairs.

Fortune, 42, of Essex Brae Edinburgh has previously been banned from renting out HMO properties, amid allegations that he threatened council staff. Earlier this year was fined £1,000 for letting an HMO property without a licence. Fortune is still legally able to rent out properties in Edinburgh.

A spokesperson for EPTAG said: “Stricter enforcement of the law regarding criminal landlords is urgently needed to protect the rights and welfare of private tenants, many of whom are among the most vulnerable in our city. More resources needs to be put into stopping these unscrupulous landlords who abuse the rights of tenants, and break the law."

The formation of this group has coincided with the formation of a similar organisation in Glasgow, which also plans to campaign against criminal landlords.

Edinburgh Private Tenants Action Group was started by tenants who have had experiences of bad landlords, some of whom have been involved in previous campaigns against bad landlords and is a member of the Edinburgh Tenants Federation and Scottish Tenants Organisation.

Follow EPTAG on facebook.

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Re: Campaigners take action against criminal landlords

By Anonymaus

I refer to a case in Glasgow in 1999 involving myself.  Sorry it's going to be a long read folks but not all tales are quickly told I'm afraid.

My "landlord" decided I had to move because I had lost my job after being diagnosed with cancer, undergoing surgery and then was due to undergo chemo. 

"I don't take tenants with Housing Benefit" he said (no doubt a tax avoidance dodge, but never mind on that score) and I had 24 hours to get out.  The bastard and his brother changed the locks without any prior notice (within 12 hours of the original "request" to leave) locking my dog inside.  I went to the local Police station (Cranstonhill) accompanied by my brother in law to be told that this "was a civil matter and nothing to do with the police". 

When pointed out that this was now an animal welfare issue and therefore a criminal matter they eventually phoned him and got him down to the station, which took him in excess of 8 hours even though he lived less than 5 minutes walk away and his shop less than half of that!  Accompanied by the Police I was given new keys and both of us were taken round to the flat where the dog was extremely distressed and had obvious injuries.  The landlord's defence? "We thought the dog might attack us", then "Look it's pissed on the floor!" (locked in on his own for over 16 hours it's no surprise).  Police response?  "Work it out between yourselves".

Housing Benefit paid him his rent of course (then continued to do so for another 3 months, which they then attempted to claim back from ME!). My £200 deposit went AWOL too (extensive urine staining to be taken care of apparently).

This was before the present legislation covering landlords (which while inadequate and now seen to not be enforced is a step in the right direction) was in place. 

We MUST support and expand such endevours as is happening over in Edinburgh before things get any worse.  I'm now luckily in a Housing Association let and feel more secure overmy housing than ever before but would be willing to "have a word" with any rogue shit who thinks he can get away with intimidation, violence or theft in the company of like-minded others.

As an aside, "someone" superglued his locks at home and work and "someone" put the shop's window in soon after all this.  Karma?

Never be tempted to rent from "Bobby" Achmed of 1/1, 1232 Argyle Street, Glasgow.  The flat he fucked me over on is 1/2, 219 Berkeley Street, Glasgow (which had a cockroach infestation at the time as well, just to ice the cake.   

Evictions ruin lives.

By bunny

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Good to see this, campaign.

Often landlords break the law and a tenant does not know who to go to, or gets rebuffed. I had a friend who was evicted from a windowless boxroom by having have her stuff thrown out in black bin bags much of it latter disposed off (including books I had lent her) because the council has failed to process housing benefit. When she rang up housing benefit department they just told now she no longer lived at the address, the benefit delay was not her problem now, and indeed in the end council paid the landlord, and even then she still did not get deposit back, which landlord pocketed as well. They did not refer her to housing advice department or homeless unit.

She then lived rough for a week or so much to detriment of her health.

At time I went to the CAB on her behalf to get advice and while they advise that her landlord (or more so her landlord's dad who acting as agent) had acted illegally in not giving her proper notice nor going through any eviction procedure at all, with lack of a written notice to quit, which even then does not mean have to leave as need to get court order; she did not want to persuade case, and was busy just living day to day surviving with health deteriorating, and at that time I started to lose contact with her.

It horrifies me to look back. I wish I had done more at time. But hopefully we can stop other landlord ruining people lives in similar ways.

Re: Campaigners take action against criminal landlords

By Pinkolady

I have dealt with quite a few landlords who carried out illegal evictions or threatened tenants to frighten them into leaving and they know exactly which tenants are vulnerable to being picked on. They go for women, single parents with no family living nearby, people with mental or physical conditions, quiet and unassuming people and so on - people like your friend.

The thing to do is go straight to a solicitor (not the CAB, they don't know how to do court action) and get an emergency injunction to get back into your home and bar the landlord from going anywhere near it. I appreciate that this is likely to only be a temporary solution as the tenant is very likely to be too scared and upset to want to stay in the same property but it saves them from having to sleep rough. But it does work, and you can go on to get a court order for the landlord to pay compo.

You need to find a solicitor's firm that has a legal aid contract for landlord-tenant work, or a local branch of Shelter, which can do the same kind of work.

One of my colleagues got a compensation order for £8,000 against a landlord last month. The t*** had phoned death threats to his tenant and had some of his mates hang about outside her house in a car, waiting for her to come out. He is likely to get made bankrupt because he also owes quite a few grand in legal costs.   

The reason he wanted to get rid of the tenant? He owed one of his mates a favour and wanted to get rid of her so he could rent the house to his pal instead. Pfff!

Since the government is putting legislation through parliament to stop legal aid for housing cases, including some unlawful evictions, tenants campaign groups will be badly needed.

(This is my welfare rights website, but I also have a good grasp of housing law.)

Re: Campaigners take action against criminal landlords

By Anonymous

Is there not a website that names and shames rogue landlords? If not, there should be . . .