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By Marc von Grundherr

Director, Benham and Reeves


Take Shelter - why video was just a cheap PR stunt

The property industry has this week remonstrated at the video that housing charity Shelter has published and in which they portray letting agents as dodgy spivs with no conscience. 

It’s all highly amusing - but not really. 

It’s a cheap ploy or rather it would be cheap if the video itself hadn’t cost thousands of pounds to put together no doubt - the irony of an organisation splashing cash on video gimmicks when that money should be spent on actual housing help, is palpable. As is the CEO’s £132,625 salary of course.


No, it’s a PR stunt that is designed to be just that - a PR attempt to raise the profile of Shelter itself rather than portraying any true representation on tenants’ experience in Britain.

Surveys of tenants perpetually demonstrate that they are happy.

A poll of hundreds of Lochfield Park Housing Association tenants that I recently found showed that 96% of respondents were satisfied with their home and with the service provided by that housing association. 

Kingsridge Cleddans Housing Association - 97% satisfied.

Yoker Housing Association - 94% satisfied

Winchester City Council Housing - 87%

Harrogate Council - 88%

Tellingly, the most recent UK Government housing survey of over 23,000 households returned a private renters’ accommodation satisfaction rate of 83%.

So I ask you, why are Shelter aggressively promoting this idea that ‘all agents’ and therefore ‘all landlords’ are Fergus Wilson-like when the evidence is entirely the opposite? Why pretend that most tenants are in dire straits with their homes when that’s simply not true? 

Shelter’s lobbying efforts are equally aggressive and they constantly seek to convince MPs that landlords hail from the spawn of the Devil and should be chastised, criticised and ostracised. This, sadly, has had some effect and Shelter’s CEO Polly Neate has now taken sole credit in their latest press release for persuading HM GOV to relinquish Section 21 on the false premise that it unfairly disadvantages tenants as on the wrong end of so-called ‘no fault evictions’. 


So effective has Shelter’s assault on the private rental sector been that even the significantly conservative minded Lord Greenhalgh, a Minister in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, was heard to have greeted a delegation from the National Residential Landlords Association with a disparaging reference to ‘all landlords are millionaires’.

Parliament’s forthcoming legislative schedule is set to turn the screws on landlords a little tighter again and no thanks to the falsities and exaggeration perpetuated by Shelter. And so a word of caution to Ms Neate and Lord Greenhalgh and indeed to Michael Gove if he soon chooses to jump on the landlord bashing bandwagon too …. 

Be careful how far you turn those screws because if you tighten them much further and landlords begin to grow tired of your antics and exit the sector, the resulting shortage of rental homes available to tenants will leave you well and truly screwed.

* Marc von Grundherr is director of London’s Benham & Reeves letting and estate agents *

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  •  G romit

    Perhaps someone should make a spoof Shelter video and see how they like it.

    Scene 1:
    Caller: Hi I've just been made homeless
    Shelter: sorry you must have called the wrong number we don't provide shelter for anyone

    Scene 2:
    Caller: I've just been served notice to quit
    Shelter: don't worry with our expensive lawyers we can play the system and keep you in the property for at keast 12 months possibly up to 2 years.

    Scene 3:
    Caller: there's mould on the wall
    Shelter: don't clean it, let it get really bad, and we'll get our overpaid lawyers to sue the Landlord.

    Other suggestions please?

  • icon

    Caller: I followed your advice and I've not paid my rent for over two years and I've managed to keep living rent free in my flat but now the bailiffs have kicked me out and I'm on the street homeless, can you help with accommodation?
    Shelter: sorry we don't provide shelter we just attack Landlords that do. Have you tried getting on the social housing register because no private Landlord will touch you now that you followed all our advice.

    PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    @Martin - there's more truth in that than many believe.

    With Shelter and other Freeloader support groups campaigning for the abolition of Sec 21, Landlords will only, by enlarge - be renting to Tenants with Cast-Iron Guarantors ( or as the Govt put it, ' Unintended consequences ' )

  • icon

    Shelter care little for those tenants who struggle now, and will certainly be struggling the near future, as the CEO's salary demonstrates, its all about the spin and keeping Shelter's profile in the news.

    Their untruth in regards S21 is simply the continuation of the collapase (in all but name) of the PRS, if the EPC C comes in then that will be the final nail in the 'ole' coffin. I see Shelter, and the other flag waving zealots as doing more harm to tenants that any rogue landlord could ever do, but they do it will a smile on their face and an air of plausible deniability.

    I see the PRS as the property version of King Canute, in the end the waves of left wing nonsense and government in-action (poor action) will swamp us ! I am one of those who has a well thought out plan to evict and sell my entire portfolio, let them (Shelter/Gen Rent/Govt) look over the disaster that follows.............. but i can bet they will see no fault in their past actions !

  • icon

    Businesses should not get away with claiming charity status. A video on this should be made. Six figure CEO’s claiming to be champions of the poor is a disgrace. Shelter the charity (business) that houses no one.

  • icon

    Most charities are like this. Charity begins at he. The charities home.
    My experience of charities are that they are rather dogy, often completely or overtly political..

  • icon

    Do people who donate to Shelter know where their money goes? Do they actually know what shelter does? It sounds nice 'Shelter charity' They must help people with struggling accommodation issues. From what I can gather, they just delay the inevitable. They don't actually give any support.

  • icon

    Adrian, and Edwin, I 100 % agree with both your comments, where's the Charities Commission in all this, thought they were suppose to look into scam charities and their employees milking their charitable status .

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    What's the definition of a Hypocrite ?
    Denigrating Landlords for not taking Tenants on benefit, and then supporting Tax-payers legal Aid defence of U.C. Rent Arrears possession claims.
    Anyone think of any examples, - $

  • icon

    Section 21 has a disastrous effect already Tenants demanding what they are clearly not entitled to and this is only the start, I can feel it in my bones.

  • icon

    Shelter get away with this because Polly Neate, however reprehensible she is, has a journalism background and understands the power of the media. The various landlords and agent associations meanwhile, seem content to keep taking membership fees while fighting back by crying that it's not fair, Shelter aren't playing by the rules, trotting out stats that no-one cares about, and lobbying politicians who decided their stance on the subject long ago. Pathetic. Fight fire with fire. Highlight Neate's salary and heightened status, highlight the fact that Shelter don't provide a single property to anyone, highlight how much they spend on marketing to raise funds and their own profile rather than using donations as they're intended. Hit them in the same way and stop being a bunch of p****ies.

  • michael davies


  • Fergus Wilson

    I was in London one day and a young lady approached me to ask whether I would financially support Shelter!

    Being the mug that I am I agreed. Then over the years I received plenty of emails telling me what a Great Guy I was!

    Then we had the Panorama Programme in March 2019! Polly Neate had some unkind things to say and I was Public Enemy Number One!

    According to the High Street Agents I was the only Landlord in Ashford who would take Victims of Domestic Abuse and tenants with small children! Yet Polly Neate said what she did!


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