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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.

  • Simon Shinerock

    Shelter, a deeply deluded unpleasant and deceptive organisation


    "....because we're not absolute arse holes and it isn't the tenant's fault that pressure groups and government are forcing this...."
    The agent wrote this and surly the likes of Shelter should take heed and do what's right for the industry not try and look after a minority of poor quality tenants who consider it their right to live in a property without paying rent.
    Now then Shelter how about you stop paying your rent and see how you get on?

  • James B

    Shelter aren’t a charity they are a self serving business feeding off the homeless


    Very well put

  • Emma Hamilton

    Maybe someone should write an open letter to BJ about shelter!

  • jeremy clarke

    Pot calling the kettle black!
    It's really time that this so called charity was called to account for the harm they are doing to our industry and the tenants in general.
    Time that all government funding was withdrawn, let's see how long their over pad, ego inflated directors last once their fees, nay gifts from government dry up. Shame on you polly neate!

  • icon

    Neate will be paid £122,500 a year for her new role, which a Shelter spokeswoman said was at the start of the charity's chief executive pay scale.
    Sounds more like a business, I mean, is it not businesses that have a chief executive pay scale? This stinks!

  • icon

    When Neate wrote her open letter she stated that there were 123k children living in temporary accommodation. The Government's own figures released at the end of June stated a figure of 124,370. You'd think she would have made it her business to know that and use those (worse) figures to state her case. Bloody useless!


    Maybe she got the figure mixed up with her pay deal.


    Too low for her pay!

    PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Perhaps she went to school with Diane Abbott ?

  • icon

    Absolute hypocrisy. We used to run a very successful letting agency and called Shelter many times for advice on behalf of vulnerable applicants who we felt needed additional help and support. On “every” occasion we were told “we don’t talk to letting agents” it needs to be the person direct. Makes my blood boil. I am a constant charity giver, but would not give to Shelter or walk into one of their shops. If the homeless only realised what they were doing!

  • icon

    Another concrete example of their destructive and misguided attack on the PRS - damaging tenants as much as landlords - is their 'no DSS' campaign. In fact with regard to this:

    1. The openrent research shows 90% of tenants don't want it banned.
    2. Shelter will by now have spent a huge number of 'man hours' on it, with people like Greg Beales, on huge salaries, spending loads of time on it. This will equate to tens of thousands of donated money being wasted.
    3. They engaged in a campaign of harassment against letting agents in the meantime and threatened and possibly are going through legal cases to sue people who have said 'no DSS'.
    4. They have spent a considerable time on encouraging lenders to change their criteria so that landlords can take on tenants on DSS (whilst not dealing with any of the obstacles in the way of this - not least that 97% of people on tenants can't afford the market rent).
    5. They have got Government to also waste time on this (I believe a committee sitting in parliament is now looking at this.

    This all demonstrates that their blind hatred of landlords and their combative attitude gets in the way of them seeing what tenants really want - the group they claim to advocate for. Tenants don't want to go to the time and expense of 20 viewings, if only two of the landlords concerned are actually agreeable to taking on tenants on benefits. They want to go to the 2 viewings.

  • NW Soc

    According to 2017/2018 financial report, Shelter received £36,928,000 in donations & legacies. They spent £6,417,000 on wages with an additional £5,300,00 on support costs, these are 31.7% of donations, not exactly charitable spending less than 69% on people who really do need support. It’s a case of raising their profit to continue that gravy train for as long as possible.


    This is my point. This is not a charity. It`s a multi million pound business and the public need to be made aware that these people are enjoying a very good life style on the generosity of others that wish to genuinely to good for people who need help.

    PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    and Advising Tenants in Rent arrears How to avoid justice isn't exactly the 'help and support' that most people who donate to No Shelter think their money's going.

    S l
    • S l
    • 06 August 2019 05:40 AM

    Agreed possession friend, someone should make it known publicly what shelter is really up to instead of hoodwink the charitable people out there including the bankers eg nationwide etc

  • Angus Shield

    Harry Albert Letting you've got balls!
    We have also looked at your most 'wobbly' tenancies, fortunately not many, but as we are paid by the Landlord and therefore have to represent their best interest.
    Abolishing tenants fees (in any form), does technically question some of our 'contractual relationship' we hold with the tenant as they are no longer buying a service from us at the creation of the tenancy; though we would never be so arrogant, or heartless, to ignore their needs as we are decent business and family people too.

    PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    PRS need more like Harry Albert !

  • Andrew Hill

    It would've been nice if they'd got in touch with us to ask for our side of the story - they blew it right out of proportion. More than one of those were issued so tenant can access social housing as, had we gone down section 8 route, it would have left the landlord more and would have left tenants worse off. Section 21 gives both parties a clean break.

    And they fail to acknowledge we act on instruction.

    Do you get the impression we touched a nerve, though?

  • icon

    To find out what Shelter has turned into since August 2017, google “An organisation whose new leaders contradict its own accumulated knowledge to mislead the public, and incite mobs of supporters to harass law-abiding businesses, and are therefore liars and bullies.”

  • icon
    • 05 August 2019 11:38 AM

    Surely issuing a S21 at the request of a tenant who has no intention of vacating on the last day of the notice is tantamount to fraud!?
    It being obvious to everyone that the S21 is for the tenant to work the system in an attempt to obtain Council Housing.
    Surely any LL should report the tenant to the Council who have requested a S21 be issued against them rather than using a NTQ letter to the LL!?

  • icon

    The only winners in Teresa May's war against Landlords was Shelter.

    Landlords, Letting Agents and Tenants were all losers.

    Landlords through section 24, Letting agents through the fee ban and tenants through higher rents.

    Ian Duncan Smith and John Redwood have already called for an end to the attacks and hopefully Boris listens to them rather than Shelter.

  • icon

    I have effectively written an open letter to the Government, by getting an article about this published on conservativehome. As a private landlord employed by no landlord body, I do all of this gratis in my own time. I am therefore rather disappointed to not be seeing a concerted effort by all the national landlord bodies to get the message across just how catastrophic the scrapping of Section 21 will be. What are they doing for the fees they receive from landlords?

    You can see my article by googling: Rosalind Beck: The Government’s war on landlords will only make the housing crisis worse for the lowest-paid.

    It would be helpful if people circulated the link to this article to their MP, to the Government etc.

  • icon
    • 05 August 2019 13:07 PM

    Yet again the likes of Shelter etc are running rings round LL..where is the useless NLA RLA etc!?

  • icon

    I really hope Boris stops the abolishment of S21. Many DSS tenants will be evicted as this will push many to sell..
    It was brought in for a reason the removal will see a big reduction in the PRS.
    Boris needs to keep S21 otherwise the conservative government will go down in history as the party that destroyed the PRS, with S24 stamp duty CGT S 21 removal. With this destruction will be many peoples livehoods and massive increases in homeless people.

    The costs to the public purse will be many times what they draw in via taxing landlords to death.


  • icon

    One day, and I imagine that day is coming sooner than they expect... Shelter will reap what they sow. They will cause the PRS to collapse because landlords & agents are becoming powerless against new legislation / licensing etc. LLs will either become a lot tougher about who they accept as tenants, or they will sell up. Either way it is the vulnerable who will suffer. And they will have Shelter to thank for it.
    Shelter don't care about the people they claim to serve, they simply want power. Oh, and to be well paid!


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