Television Landlords – And Real Life

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Television – the square-eyed monster as it has been called – plays an enormous part in our daily lives. It entertains us, it educates us, but it also colours our views of the World we live in.

Stories of rogue landlords will still bring to mind the landlord Rigsby in ‘Rising Damp’ and the squalid rooms his tenants inhabited.

Times have changed and whilst there will be some landlords below the radar who would see nothing wrong with Rigsby’s working practices, the majority of landlords and tenants, would not want to live at Rigsby’s. Modern tenants would not want to share a room and expect to have en-suite rooms. Alan and Philip (tenants in Rising Damp) were students, but today there is a greater availability of good quality student accommodation which attracts high rents – even in Manchester, students can expect to pay over £100 per week in purpose-built properties.

Nowadays, Rigsby could expect criminal charges brought for sexual harassment and racism; nor would his frequent access to the property be allowed as he clearly was not allowing his tenants ‘Quiet Enjoyment’ of the property. To be fair, his tenants seem perfectly relaxed and confident with him, when their pranks should really have earned them a notice at the end of their first tenancy period. That, of course, would not have led to repeated series!

The other television programme that shows examples of private renting is ‘Coronation Street’. In this typical northern street and its’ immediate environs, it seems there are numerous opportunities for private renting, in houses and flats. There also seems a never-ending supply of tenants in need of somewhere to live due to relationship breakdown, release from prison or return from a foreign country. 

The tenants pay the rent, leave when requested and only make complaints about the property when the situation is life-threatening and can add a dramatic thread to the storyline – ie when carbon monoxide poisoning was discovered. Not only dramatic, but also a warning for viewers that boilers need installing by a gas safe fitter and that an annual check is a mandatory requirement. 

There rarely seem discussions about the deposit, or whether it has been protected and where. Landlords and tenants meet for companionable drinks in the local with never a cross word about property standards, unreasonable landlord actions or anti-social behaviour from the tenant. Are the landlords on ‘Coronation Street’ particularly lucky, or skilled, in their letting choices? Or are the script writers ignorant of the real issues of the private sector?

Of course, neither Rigsby or ‘Coronation Street’ is representative of the private sector. Both television creations have been drawn for humour or to add to various plotlines. What we should remember is that as neither of these television programmes accurately represent landlords; neither do the articles that talk of ‘Rogue Landlords’.

The rogues deliberately behave badly towards tenants, try to ignore the legislation and take what they can from their victims. The Rogues are a minority; the majority of landlords treat their tenants with respect and do what the legislation tells them they should. Let’s hear more in the media and on television about the respectable landlords and less of the rogues; a bit more about rogue tenants might be appreciated too.

For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon 

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