14:28 PM, 8th February 2017, About 5 years ago 28
To whom it may concern.
I watched your programme last night and must point out firstly an error that was made.
In the introduction to the film shown, Emily Maitlis stated: “in this next film we meet three individuals, each kicked out of their private lodging when things got tough…”
In addition to the unprofessional and inflammatory language (‘kicked out’), in fact the first ‘individual’ profiled had been evicted by a Housing Association after her partner went to prison. So she was not evicted by a private landlord at all; she was evicted from ‘social housing’. The euphemism ‘things got tough’ is also highly unsatisfactory as it hides much more than it reveals. I will unpick what this is really likely to have meant below.
The reason that it is important to not allow things like this to go unchallenged is that every opportunity seems to be taken at the moment to scapegoat landlords and even blame them for homelessness – and this vilification of landlords has led to highly destructive attacks on the sector which are going to exacerbate the housing crisis (I can give you reams of information on this if you require – in fact, I will paste the link to my report on this below).
I have written to Gavin Barwell, as his comments were also very misleading. My letter has been published as an open letter (see below). I would like you to read it to see what was wrong with how both the producers and he misrepresented landlords and made the programme very partial and biased.
The producers were in fact guilty of some very lazy journalism – in that no-one asked the women tenants who featured in the film for the specific reasons for and details of their eviction. Neither did anyone ask the Housing Associations and/or private landlords who had evicted them, why they had done so. It is highly likely that they were evicted because of arrears and/or damages. That is the overwhelming reason for evictions both from the private and social sectors. The producers should have asked the private and social landlords for evidence – such as the court documents showing the arrears and damages (which usually run into thousands of pounds as it takes a minimum of 5 months, and often a lot longer, to evict anyone in the UK).
The fact that this was not mentioned made it look like the tenants were poor, blameless victims and once more aspersions were cast on the ‘nasty private landlords’ even when it was a Housing Association that evicted them!
Finally, it would also have been more balanced if you had had a representative of private landlords as aspersions were also cast by the panel of three tenants about the unaffordability of private rentals, with no-one giving the landlords’ viewpoint. They were also all from South London. Please get a more balanced profile in future. I thought Newsnight was supposed to be a national programme, not one purely relevant to South London.
Can you please follow this up as a complaint and let me know the views of the producers on this and how they will make amends. I suggest one way to go about this would be to have a long piece looking at private landlords’ viewpoints for a change.
Dr Rosalind Beck
Today I launch my comprehensive report: Section 24 of the Finance (No. 2) Act 2015: “the unjust legislation that will make the UK housing crisis much worse.” I would like to thank all of those who have contributed to this report, which I hope will have a significant impact in our campaign to reverse this… Read more
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