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The BBC and the PRS

By J

Last Thursday night, BBC 1 broadcast Meet the Landlords. It’s still available on Iplayer, here. It just confirms my view that – save for limited circumstances – one person should not be allowed to own the home of another.

Others may have different reactions when they watch it, but my overwhelming feeling is frustration. Some landlords who don’t seem to understand what it means – in law or practice – to be a landlord. Certain of the occupiers who, with the greatest of respect, plainly don’t have what it takes to survive in the private rented sector and who are crying out for social housing. Woeful lack of understanding of housing law (the poor woman with cancer, for example, seems to me to be being fobbed off by her local authority). The suggestion that possession orders should not be required is, well, terrifying.

Not the easiest viewing, and rather out of keeping with this glorious weather. But worth an hour of your time.



J is a barrister. He considers housing law to be the single greatest kind of law known to humankind and finds it very odd that so few people share this view.


  1. Sue

    Wholeheartedly agree with you: very upsetting programme for anyone except landlords who probably had their prejudices confirmed. Alarming that the HMO king had been in care: odd how the worst oppressors of others have often come from a very dark place themselves and their search for personal security comes at the expense of others’ suffering.

    • Early Bird

      Similarities to the notorious Rachman who was interned by the Germans and then the Soviets in a Siberian Labour Camp.

  2. LHA

    What struck me is that in 1982 when I wandered into a university that would have me , these same issues were being discussed. Predictably the lecturers all wanted public ownership of everything like it is in say Brazil (which wasnt but even 30 odd years later ain’t that great) and I fled downstairs to the Estate Management dept.

    Sadly social housing is the dumping ground for the lost of society intermingled with a lot of decent people, and shortages lead many of the former into the ill equipped and hardly regulated private HMO/Bedsit world.

    What we need is to remove housing regulation from the Local Authority and roll back the sucking mudpit of “inter agency cooperation” which stops local housing public and private landlords getting the boot they deserve, while passing the parcel of responsbility, budget to budget. We must protect some of the victims through licensing of (all) agents and landlords, as well as forcing those agencies to address the dangerous and lost tenants.

    But please don’t hand it to the public sector consultants ,let the private sector set it up, that way we wont end up with 100% paperwork about 90% paperwork and 10% actual skills..

    I was shocked to see, and not for the first time, the keen but clueless representing public housing eg on TV Ch 4 Tues expressing concern that a chaps shelf of booze was a flammable fire hazard, while they were proud of 2 years of talking to get him to clear 10% of his muck encrusted home, when in fact he should have been led away for a holiday while it was sorted out.

    In that respect there is often not a lot of difference between HMO king and the average NHO, except that despite a lot of “training” and wages the NHO is often ill trained and inept ( and in a like organisation).

    As regulation will force some out and strain the public purse then we need to be prepared for the consequences. Rather than concentrate on decent housing perhaps we need to adjust our expectations and provide a modern poor house and barrack room type living for those in need , who can progress to a home of their own, and facilities for those that are lost and need help as well as for the elderly that clutter up social services and housing, and far better off in a retirement home not in the middle of a sink estate, largely terrified.

    While many burble on about rent controls the underlying issue is rarely addressed – the supply related to economic activity. Time for the mark 6 New Town Movement.


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