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Activist leader claims ‘one man band’ landlords worst at exploiting tenants

A leader of the pro-tenant activist group Acorn has told MPs that “one man bands” are more likely to exploit tenants than large scale landlords or corporations.

Ben Leonard, the senior remote organiser and policy and research officer at Acorn, has made the claim while giving evidence to the committee stage of the Renters Senior Remote Organiser and Policy and Research Officer, ACORN union

He told MPs: “From the evidence that I have seen, it seems that mainly smaller landlords are selling up to bigger landlords, which from the point of view of the tenant can be a step forward. 


“Many tenants have a better experience dealing with corporate landlords than with one-man bands, who do not know the regulations, cut corners and will take advantage of vulnerable people. 

“Generally, you do not get that with corporates. From the point of view of tenants, it is better to deal with larger, more professional organisations.”

Elsewhere in his evidence Leonard suggested there were various ways the Renters Reform Bill could be beefed up.

One way was to force landlords to give some form of financial assistance to any tenant asked to leave a rented property, even if all procedures were followed to the letter.

Leonard told MPs: “It could be a simple payment, like a rent repayment, to help with that transition, or it could be that, from the moment the notice is issued, it is illegitimate to collect rent on that property and no further rent needs to be paid. 

“That would go some way to, first, put off rogue landlords from abusing the power and, secondly, make the circumstances of the tenant’s life more liveable. 

“Moving house is a massive hassle, especially if you have dependants, so if that is being foisted on you by an outside force, there is no reason why that outside force should not support you in some way.”

He also advocated incentivising tenants to go public with complaints about landlords, via the property portal proposed in the Bill.

He called for the creation of “an army of enforcers who are properly incentivised to report landlords who are not up to scratch. The property portal can play a big role here. 

“More transparent information inherently gives renters more power to put pressure on and see when their landlord is lying to the authorities. 

“If a landlord says, ‘We have met these standards’ on the property portal, a tenant can look at it and go, ‘Well, that’s not true, and I can point to all the problems that exist,’ and then there is an incentive for them to pursue it. 

“I speak as someone who has pursued a rent repayment order in the past. I won 80% of my rent back, but it was a long, gruelling and difficult process, with no access to legal aid. The financial incentive was quite strong, but there were times when I felt like giving up. 

“There are many ways to solve that problem, but making the process straightforward for tenants and properly incentivising and supporting them in it, alongside local authority enforcement, are important.”

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  • icon

    He just doesn’t get it, does he? If you want security of tenure, BUY YOUR OWN PROPERTY. Tenants sign a contract and yes, if the owner wants to sell or move in, that contract can be terminated. Why should the owner then have to pay you to help you move? If you work for a firm as a contractor, they don’t pay you extra at the end to help you find another contract, so why should a landlord? Mind you that example applies to genuine employment, not made up jobs like “ senior remote organiser (me neither) and policy and research officer.


    Yep, totally agree. No tenant will EVER be secure in the PRS. It’s the nature of the thing, either buy your own or get a council property.


    Easier said than done.
    Many want to buy but can't afford it.

    Peter Why Do I Bother

    Sandy B, what is stopping you from buying?? Seriously what is stopping you??

    I was brought up by my mother on her own with b*gger all but managed through hard work to get into work and a foot on the ladder, no help with deposit, no help with solicitors, no help with stamp duty (which was paid on all houses then), no help with refurbishment and and and...

    Constant bleating is becoming a drain, get out there and do something instead of p1ssing about on socials all day whining about what bad hand life has dealt you!


    Peter, Sandra is on benefits. She appears to claim Personal Independence Payments. She will have no intention of getting any sort of job to stand on her own two feet. Just be needy, and complain about wanting 'more'. Perhaps I am doing her an injustice, but if not her there are many others happy to keep sucking.


    @ Peter Ginger-Group you mention "hard work" which is anathema to Sandra and her friends in Shelter, Generation Rent etc.


    There are rumours that in the Autumn statement today benefit payments to hundreds of thousands of people with mobility and mental-health problems will be cut unless they find work they can do from home.

    The prime minister is reported to be going to say find jobs or face a benefits cut of £4,680 a year if they do not that.


    I am not sure that people with mental health issues could hold down a home job - I suppose it depends on the nature of the mental health problem. Also some will be on medication which affects thinking ability.

  • icon

    I know I'm out of step with a great many landlords but I do kind of agree with some form of financial assistance if long term genuinely blameless tenants are evicted.
    Only after at least two years of totally adhering to the tenancy agreement. All rent payments on time and in full, no ASB, etc.
    Payment only to be made after they have vacated by the specified date.

    Realistically it would only be necessary if we decided to retire or needed to do a major refurb at a time that tenants had no intention of vacating. Factored in over the period of our ownership such a payment would amount to very little per month and would certainly be a lot cheaper and less stressful than a bailiff eviction. Most tenants leave when the next stage in their life beckons, most landlords have multiple sets of tenants during their ownership of a property, so payment would be very rare. However, such a scheme may incentivise tenants to prioritise their rent payments on the off chance we might want to retire and wouldn't that be a real bonus for all parties?

    I will make it clear that I operate using SPTs and actively encourage long term tenancies in all my properties except the student houses. I fully realise some landlords prefer a much higher turnover of tenants but if there was a 2 year qualifying period they would rarely be in the situation of paying anything anyway.

  • icon

    In balance to that, can there be a central government fund that pays the landlords missing rent payments when bad tenants leave, cause thousands of pounds worth of damage, create incredible stress, then move on to their next victim without any responsibility or liability! No..didnt think so.


    Or when the tenant refuses the offer of wiping off the £2k rent arrears if they just leave, thus forcing court and bailiffs etc...again, no I didn't think so!

  • jeremy clarke

    What on earth does a "senior remote organiser and policy research officer " mean or do?
    Do these folk just make up titles, does it mean he's working from his kitchen?
    There doesn't appear to be any correlation between intelligence and stupid job titles.


    He has what people refer to as a ‘non-job’. I wouldn’t waste giving him any airtime.


    They are just violent thugs, pure and simple


    Hmmm, maybe sits at his computer at home, Googling government policies on housing etc...and now thinks he's an expert?

  • icon

    As soon as someone start with "From the evidence I have seen" means that he isn't really convinced that what he is saying is actually true and he is just covering himself. Basically he wants to be important and have something to say and is therefore making something up.

  • icon

    The London Borough’s created the Housing problem and the Homeless made a great big hole in the safety net by introducing Licensing Schemes and repeated robbing landlords, didn’t we have a load of rules & regulation’s to comply without any licensing rip off Schemes to fill Councils pockets. So much costs and penalties unfairly imposed on landlords who house millions and yet Parliament went so far as to change Statute to Criminalise him over what was Civil matters . Hundreds of thousands threw in the towel because of the injustice increasing the hole in the net.
    They were not satisfied at that they gave Mr Michael Gove the job of turning the knife further with the Renter Reform Bill and drive out even more making landlords too scared to rent including me and property idle, now they’ll need another Act of Parliament or Amendment to confiscate the property and are well capable of stopping that low. the We don’t want any of your 170’000 that you are keeping at tax payers expense with the mindset you have created or maybe I got it wrong and they all have good jobs.
    Scrap the RRB now or continue to increase the Homelessness situation you created so it’s all on your head.

  • Peter Why Do I Bother

    Ben Leonard, the senior remote organiser and policy and research officer at Acorn, has made the claim while giving evidence to the committee stage of the Renters Senior Remote Organiser and Policy and Research Officer, ACORN union......

    WTF is that job title, organising stuff from his mums bedroom? I honestly give up, and he did not pursue a rent repayment order.

  • icon

    Why are Acorn even addressing the committee? They are just a bunch of leftwing activists who know nothing about the PRS except their own personal experiences?

  • icon

    "senior remote organiser and policy and research officer"
    Is Acorn affiliated to the Monster Raving Loony Party?

    Peter Why Do I Bother

    Bit the like the Window Cleaner calling himself The Scenery Improver

    John Wathen

    There is some credibility in that title, he’s certainly remote, - from reality!

  • icon

    If my tenants are anything to go by, they don't have a good experience dealing with corporate landlords. Before I switched to short term visiting professionals, I had some groups of tenants who left for personal reasons e.g. moving in with a boyfriend/girlfriend.

    Those who left have ALL contacted me (repeatedly) asking if I have available accommodation and said that their corporate landlords/agents have been useless when it comes to repairs and have been charging them much too much.

    I still exchange gifts with my ex-tenants, and I have enjoyed making the majority of my tenants happy, but with the current anti-small landlord hysteria I don't think it is wise to continue. We have become a persecuted group with the assumption being made at the outset that we aren't decent people.

    • A JR
    • 22 November 2023 08:25 AM

    Big corporate landlords are more likely to become ‘tomorrows slum landlords’. Tenants just another statistic in vast, inefficient, uncaring and expensive ‘housing farms’.

  • icon

    I have had dozens of Tenants thanking me for being a good landlord some have written letters to that effect others brought me presents on leaving gratefully accepted but not necessary I have too many tea service sets, others have contacted me wanting to come back but invariably it then occupied by some other happy Tenant.


    You are such an experienced, competent landlord with amazing skills that that does not surprise me in the least.


    I understand what you are saying Micheal. I still get Christmas cards from a couple of mine who went years ago. How is a housing association help line more human than many of us?

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    These figures just don't stack up. !
    With almost 50 % of Landlords owning ONE rental property, and 83% of Tenants being satisfied, Acorns statistics are as hookey as Shelter !

  • icon

    Would be interesting to see the data on which this claim is based. You'd need to do some proper research to come to this conclusion.

  • icon

    Research (a research paper on property management) shows that tenant satisfaction depends on

    1. Tenants' “Ease of Doing Business”;
    2. Landlords' treating residents as customers, and building a good relationship with them;
    3. Landlords' providing good value for money, by delivering a good service and offering relevant
    4. Landlords' managing and maintaining properties effectively and efficiently.

    From my experience with ex-tenants, none of the above four seems to be being accomplished by corporate landlords.


    I spoke to one ex-tenant recently and their rent in a new build was going up by £800 a month! The old rent was £2,200 pcm and the new would be £3000 pcm.

  • icon

    A limited company registered at company house. Yet another business with people dragged off the street who are clearly by his own words not qualified in any shape or form to speak about housing.

  • icon

    This man is not experienced all this will put pressure on the rent following his
    advices the rent will be doubled , such an illtrate should not represent the renters
    what he thinks as a landlord you are bank owner

  • icon

    Where's the evidence?
    I'm not corporate and I make sure my tenants are safe, all checks done, property etc insured and the accommodation is fit for purpose, responding immediately to any.problem, getting workmen.in. I've also not continually.put rent up, which means my money is less but sharing the load in these times. I know of a lot.of.others who.have done the same.
    I seem to recall the mould and running water scenarios in "social housing" which resulted in tenants' poor health and even death, so this oik
    needs to focus on that area of concern imho!
    As previously said, if tenants want all.of the rights demanded, they need to either buy their own.or.lobny Gov for massive increase in council house building.

  • icon

    When I sold my lettings agency over three years ago, we had 12-landlords who had previously been tenants of ours, on our books. They told us that when they were letting their own properties, we were the obvious choice as agent as we knew what we were talking about, undertook repairs immediately and they knew exactly where they stood when it came to their expectations of us and what our expectations were of them. Good communication and professional knowledge is key.

  • dale james

    Well I have long recognised that Acorn are not what they seem! This is a government shill organisation helping the government and their corporate owners in their war on the small landlord. The tenants are suffering from Acorns efforts in a typical inversion strategy to shift all the rented sector to corporates and public/private partnerships. Tenants wake up! Work with your landlords now or suffer the consequences under a big business landlord. Ask Acorn who funds them and what are the wages of their officers

  • icon

    Yes, nothing wrong with huge social landlords that have been issued over 40 notices by the ombudsman for failure to deal with complaints, mould, damp, etc for very extended periods. Biased or what?
    I do agree though with having an open system where tenants can complain about landlords, (complaints verified in some way though), but to be completely fair, there should also be a similar system where landlords can list tenants who are anti-social, non-payers or property-damaging. Then we can all make sure we don't let to anyone on the register. Seems to me these tenants are ideally suited to the big landlords who don't bother to deal with these issues anyway.
    I also agree, (controversially I'm sure), that a tenant who has been in the same property for say at least 2 years; should the landlord want his property back through no fault of the tenant, that they could have the last 2? months free.

  • icon

    I just don’t get this idea that tenants should be paid for observing the terms of their contracts. I don’t recall getting money off my mortgage after paying regularly for twenty five years and I certainly don’t get money off my car insurance for driving carefully, in fact it goes up every year.


    It is just another totally unreasonable/very unfair demand which will drive out landlords who already have offered a cheap deal to their tenants. Also some of the tenants will not have paid any of the rent themselves; it will have come from government/tax payers' money.

    There are a group of tenants who believe paying rent is unjustified. The next demand from Acorn will be that all rent should be repaid if landlords try to use a Section 8 ground.

    Peter Why Do I Bother

    Agreed with this and also Ellie's comments that some of the tenants will have been paid rent via benefits and the landlords do not see it.

    Happy to help any of my tenants if they are fine upstanding members. Problem is with this shower is they would want a pair of months rent knocking off and the deposit back too..!

  • Nic  Kaz

    Don't worry, small, reliable, reachable, responsible landlords will have been driven away soon and then good luck with the faceless corporates who will have the monopoly. As for letting tenants off payments - our mortgage companies won’t let us off those 2 months payments! Another economic reason to avoid investing in PRS for long term renting - another own goal.

  • icon

    Ben may be correct when he says that smaller landlords are selling up and possibly to the big co operations if they want a quick sale.

    I'll sell mine at market value, in no rush to sell.

    They may have more tradesmen on their beck and call but what do you think is going to happen when a tenant can not pay the rent on time?

    Will they have the compassion to look at the tenant as someone that has been with them for years or just a number that has not paid rent on time this month?

    I bought 1 house from a big corporate seller and they had treated the tenant like dirt. She was so happy after I bought the house from them.

    My bets are that the government will make legislation easier for them to get rid of the tenant while private landlords suffer the lengthy court process. Luckily in over 30 years of being a landlord, i've never yet needed to go to court.

    Acorn and Shelter are in for a shock when the big companies take over.
    They will have the government in their pockets and will just ignore Shelter and Acorn


    There is an article in the Mailonine about Aster housing who do shared ownership. Had they been a PRS Landlord, they would have been crucified. They kept repeating that the property was structurally sound. Internally it was a different story.


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