Despicable vehemently anti-landlord Guardian article

by Dr Rosalind Beck

A week ago

Despicable vehemently anti-landlord Guardian article

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Despicable vehemently anti-landlord Guardian article

The Guardian has sunk to new lows this week with the publication of the most vehemently anti-landlord article, by Rhik Samadder (such an expert in the field that none of us have ever heard of him), that I have ever seen published by a national newspaper. The title alone is shocking:

‘Landlords are social parasites. They’re the last people we should be honouring.’

It then goes from bad to worse, when Samadder declares that:

‘Most buy-to-let opportunists make their tenants’ lives hell – giving them a prize is like giving Stalin a humanitarian award.’
He might think he’s being funny but my question is: Since when was it okay to compare an entire occupational group to an evil communist dictator who was responsible for the deaths of around 20 million of his own people and decades of misery under communism? How can a mainstream British newspaper publish such a disgusting claim?

The role of the private rented sector in supplying and servicing essential accommodation for millions of mobile workers, young professionals, students, migrants, families, the low-paid and those on benefits – amongst other things, filling the gap left by successive governments’ sell-off of council housing and also forming part of the economy’s critical infrastructure – is ignored. Other simple, sober facts, such as that tenants in the private sector express greater satisfaction with their properties than those in the social sector, are invisible in this narrative.

Instead, we get:

‘The fact is, they’re all rogue. Whether your landlord is a genial profiteer or an actual psychopath is the luck of the draw.’

The dictionary defines ‘psychopath‘ as: ‘a person suffering from chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behaviour.’

I would like to see Samadder’s evidence for this assertion. If he hasn’t got any, then he can withdraw the comment and apologise.

As for his claim that landlords are ‘social parasites’ because they make a living out of renting out housing, the clear implication is that landlords should not be allowed to make any profit from their businesses because housing is a human necessity. Why, then, is the author not saying that all supermarket owners and share-holders are parasites, as they are making money out of people’s need to eat? Presumably, the journalist accepts no money for his work either and lives on fresh air. Perhaps he also thinks that writing hate-filled diatribes is more productive than providing a roof over people’s heads.

He further shows his ignorance, when he mentions the termination of short-term contracts as the main cause of homelessness. As I have to repeat practically every month ad nauseum to various ill-informed people, this is patent nonsense. It is the private rented sector which provides this housing in the first place. What’s more, landlords – unless they are supremely stupid – don’t evict for no reason – the most common reason is arrears and damage.

It is pure tautology then to say that the loss of the home ‘caused’ the homelessness. When an employee loses his job for stealing, who caused the loss of the job; the employer or employee?

He then mentions ‘revenge evictions.’ I believe these were a very rare occurrence in the past and have now also been outlawed, so why is he suggesting that they are still a problem, when tenants have legal protection against them? Perhaps he didn’t mention it because he doesn’t know about it; so-called journalists who do a tiny bit of research on a complicated subject often think that makes them an expert on it.

The next part is completely off the scale of the decency and objectivity which one would expect to find in a national newspaper:

‘Just sit on a damp mattress and cough up the cash. All so they can keep expanding, squatting over lives like feudal incubi. If you’re one of these people, you can shove your property portfolio up your arse.’

Incubi are evil spirits ‘supposed to descend upon and have sexual intercourse with women as they sleep.’

It is hard to know how to take this dreadful and libelous condemnation of our profession. The Guardian’s readership has been shrinking over recent years, with it standing at about a tenth of that of the Daily Mail – so they may be deliberately publishing hugely offensive material in a last-ditch attempt to gain more readers. But that’s still no excuse.

Needless to say, landlords have been completely taken aback and been commenting on social media about this. Landlord Owen O’Neill said of the author ‘He does seem to have a lot of opinions supported by no facts and an axe to grind. And if you swapped ‘landlord’ for any religion it would be hate speech and he’d be in prison.’ Another landlord, Terri Nash: called it a ‘totally disgraceful article’.

Yet another said:

‘Isn’t it strange that it’s OK for this person to label every landlord a parasite. I assume using his logic it’s also OK to brand every Muslim a terrorist, Every Black person a gang member, everyone from Ireland a thieving gypsy. I wonder what would happen if he published that.’

There is a more general issue which this article throws up and that is the implications of wholesale condemnation of occupational groups. This is not a new phenomenon; groups targeted in this way over the years have included: traffic wardens, bankers, teachers, social workers, MPs, estate agents and so on. And whilst groups with ‘protected characteristics,’ such as women and/or black people are able to take legal action when faced with such discriminatory attacks, occupational groups have no such protection.

If this hate writing is allowed to continue, it is only a matter of time before it leads to outright physical attacks on landlords; indeed, it is implicitly an incitement to violence.

One can speculate on the motivation for such vehement anti-landlord sentiment, of course and one landlord hit the nail on the head when he said:

‘He probably missed the boat and is upset that he isn’t a landlord.’

It is a given in psychology that hatred is often fueled by jealousy.

Nevertheless, regardless of his perverse and personal motives for making this attack, it is dangerous and as such I say to the editor of the Guardian: If any landlords are physically targeted after the publication of these articles, then the blame will lie squarely with yourselves for stigmatising a whole occupational group. I am also sure landlords will fund a legal case for anyone affected to bring those who incite such violence to justice.

Comments

Mark Alexander

A week ago

Perhaps the author is hoping that all two million private landlords will move to Malta like my wife and I did? That would increase the availability of UK housing! LOL 😉

Monty Bodkin

A week ago

Anti-capitalist 'logic' at its best!

Neil Patterson

A week ago

A shocking display of hate speak Rhik Samadder!

Deborah Clare

A week ago

I wonder if my tenant who sent me a lovely message last week thanking me for helping her when she needed it most, would agree with him? One word describes him perfectly 'idiot'.

Luke P

A week ago

It seems accurate journalism in favour of generating site visits is The Guardian's game these days and appears to have reached a new (low) industry standard.

David Dorset

A week ago

This is a disgusting article. In every industry you have bad apples, not least in the press (Diana Princess of Wales as an example), but that doesn't mean that all are bad. I know lots of landlords and the vast majority are keen to keep a sensible balance and do the right thing with regards to their properties and tenants.
I am shocked the Guardian allowed this article to be printed.
I believe that the current government's war on landlords will see a big decline in new buy to let properties coming to the market and then we will see if we are needed or not. There will be a huge shortfall of rented property available.

Jenny Sinclair

A week ago

I too read this article and was horrified by the unsubstantiated rubbish being published in a national newspaper. It will come as no surprise to anyone here that mr Samadder's main job on that newspaper is to write "humorous" reviews of kitchen equipment, usually filled with double entendres.
I think he may also provide live feeds alongside reality tv shows.
An industry expert indeed. I hope that the paper is required to apologise on his behalf.
An excellent article from Rosalind Beck - thank you.

Paul Kaye

A week ago

This person is an obvious idiot and showing disrimination against Landlords.
He may perhaps be a racist ? too ,he should be sacked now,he is not worthy to continue in his silly little job,

Jamie Nelson

A week ago

Which paper is more extreme ? The Guardian or The Daily Mail ?

Tracy Conner

A week ago

I can’t believe that toxic bile is for real. I honestly don’t think I have been so offended and shocked by such a hateful, dangerous and ill-informed piece of filth.
Deep shame on The Guardian. You are skating on thin ice publishing people who are barely distinguishable from trolls.

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