Landlords boycott stores over their support for homeless charity Shelter

Landlords boycott stores over their support for homeless charity Shelter

Friday, November 23, 2018

Landlords are boycotting B&Q and M&S over their support for homeless charity Shelter, which they say is taking part in a “campaign of negativity” against landlords. 

Larry Sweeney, the CEO of the National Landlords Alliance said: "It is a completely biased and one sided campaign against landlords."

"You read more about bad landlords in the newspaper, than you read about drug dealers," he added. 

He also described the charity’s description as a homeless charity as “a fabrication” because “they do not provide homes for anybody”.

“When you talk about Shelter the homeless charity, the ordinary man on the street would assume that Shelter provide housing or provide homes for people. They don’t. It is a complete fabrication,” he said.

“Shelter call themselves a homeless charity but they do not provide homes for anybody.”

He added: "The reason we have been boycotting these businesses is because we want to educate everybody. We want everybody around the country to have a long hard look at Shelter and what they do."

B&Q and M&S are raising money for the charity with money boxes in most stores.

Shelter provide advice, support and legal advice to people struggling with bad housing or homelessness, including a free emergency helpline which is open 365 days a year.


'Good, hardworking people' 

The National Landlords Alliance have suggested an alternative plan for Shelter to help tenants in need. 

Mr Sweeney suggests that Shelter uses donations to be a guarantor for housing benefit tenants, or issue bonds. Usually, a guarantor would be a family member or friend of the tenant, who signs the contract to say they will be liable to pay the rent if the tenant does not. 

Mr Sweeney says that if Shelter were prepared to provide this service to would-be tenants claiming benefits, landlords may be more willing to rent to them. 

"Shelter, by their own admission, said most tenants won’t wreck the property and most tenants won’t fall into rent arrears and most tenants in our opinion, are good, hardworking, honest people, as are most landlords," he said.

"So if Shelter really believed what they are saying, why don’t Shelter take us up on our suggestion and issue bonds or guarantees for housing benefit tenants. If they issued a bond of £4,000, which is not a lot of money in the south of England but across the country it would be acceptable.

"They could actually issue bonds for up to 15,000 families. Imagine 15,000 families suddenly have purchasing power, suddenly they are almost on a par with people in employment who have a better chance of getting a home than someone on benefits."


'Universal Credit' 

Earlier this year, Shelter named the estate agents Ludlow Thompson for discriminating against tenants with housing benefits, known as DSS tenants. 

Ludlow Thompson denied the allegations, and Mr Sweeney defended the estate agents. 

"Shelter had a horrendous attack on Ludlow Thompson estate agents. Ludlow Thompson estate agents said quite clearly that ‘we don’t discriminate, we work in the best interests of our clients’," he said. 

"Shelter is going round saying that landlords and agents are routinely discriminating against its DSS tenants. In the case of agents, they act in the best interests of landlords and the reality is that tenants on housing benefits get their rent paid in arrears and there are problems with universal credit," he added. 

"None of which is the tenants fault, let me make that clear. But, they don’t have credit history, and quite often they do not have deposits. What we are saying is if Shelter take up our plan and use their vast wealth to go and act as guarantors for tenants, that will give these housing benefit tenants a fantastic leg up the ladder."


'False claims' 

Greg Beales, Campaign Director at Shelter accused the National Landlords Alliance of "false claims", adding that they did not believe the alliance represented "the views of most landlords". 

 He said: “The Landlord’s Alliance appears to be a new group that has made a number of false claims about Shelter. We do not believe they represent more than a handful of landlords and certainly not the views of most landlords.

“Shelter was founded 52 years ago to defend people’s right to a safe home. Every year, we help millions of people struggling with bad housing or homelessness through free and expert advice, support and legal services.

“We also campaign to make sure that, one day, no-one will have to turn to us for help. This means working with a huge range of organisations - including landlord bodies, community groups and politicians.”

Andy Harris, Director of Fundraising at Shelter added: “M&S have been supporting Shelter’s helpline for thirteen years, and donate 5% of each sale from their Festive Collection.

"In that time M&S has raised an incredible £3.4 million for Shelter’s emergency helpline – allowing us to answer hundreds of thousands of calls from people faced with homelessness or bad housing. And last year, this crucial contribution funded every call answered by the helpline over the Christmas period.”

Hardware store B&Q said that "everyone should have a home that they feel good about".

"At B&Q we believe everyone should have a home that they can feel good about and recognise that this is not the case for many people.  As the leading UK wide charity tackling the issues that impact both poor housing and homelessness, we believe that Shelter is the right organisation for us to work with," A B&Q spokesperson said. 

"Our work with Shelter funds a team of DIY Skills Advisers (DIYSAs) and supports Shelter frontline advice services.  We regularly review the impact our partnership is having and are happy with how Shelter is using the funds that we donate.”