Why should landlords deal with lies and damned statistics?

Why should landlords deal with lies and damned statistics?

10:16 AM, 9th December 2022, About A year ago 14

Text Size

It has been another interesting week in the life of a landlord in the UK – and none of it good.

My attention has been drawn to the use of statistics to prove that all landlords are bad – and how the media swallows these figures without closer examination.

So, let’s look at my old friends at Shelter.

Property118 reports that Shelter claims that 941,000 tenants are at risk of eviction – which is, they say, one in 12 renters.

This was reported as a fact. Not an estimate, as a fact.

The PRS and landlords really are in trouble

My first thought was that is a hefty number to be bandied about and if correct, the PRS and landlords really are in trouble.

So, a quick read of the article and a visit to the Shelter site reveals that we really should take these figures with a pinch of salt.


Well, this might sound hard to believe but I used to be a statistician and I know that you can find out from a small random sample what you need to know. However, it needs to be truly random – it’s why those hair shampoo adverts on TV only have a survey of 90 people saying how great the product is.

Any more than that and you are simply replicating the same answer.

2,000 private renters in England were contacted

Firstly, the notes on the research highlight that 2,000 private renters in England were contacted by the research company.

I guess that’s OK because it is a reputable company doing the work and they’ll understand statistical bias (it’s an old trick the Government used for introducing speed cameras all these years ago without understanding the reversion to the mean. Basically, the data didn’t back up what the government was saying).

The notes to editors states that the private tenants were contacted online. Who are these respondents? Are they previous/current users of Shelter’s services?

But then it goes on to say that the data is ‘weighted’ to be representative of all adults in England. The population figures come from the English Housing Survey.

I would like more detail here because the English Housing Survey draws random addresses and invites the person at that address to be interviewed. Hence, you cannot simply multiply your average survey response using this figure to reliably get the total number of individuals affected.

The figures were skewed

And here comes another but. The latest survey makes clear that the figures were skewed because there were more outright owners and fewer renters in their sample. They also say there were older respondents over the age of 65 and fewer households with children than in the year previously.

And here’s another but. The English Housing Survey discusses households, it doesn’t discuss the population total. That’s the census.

The survey says there 4.4million, or 19%, households in the PRS. This is an estimate.

Now when organisations begin to cherry pick their baseline data, I get worried.

Research showing how bad landlords are

And when I see the target of some research that is aimed at showing how bad landlords are, I get really worried.

Shelter says that 8% of renters are under threat of eviction, and 5% of tenants have been handed an eviction notice. That 8% equates to 940,939 renting adults and 5% is 503,995.

Obviously, the 941,000 tenants in danger of eviction was reported as ‘nearly a million’, natch.

However, does that really mean that in England, out of 4.4 million households that rent, 1.445 million adults are either being evicted or are about to be evicted?

If so, is that not a national emergency? The government needs to step in and do something like putting tents up in the Moors!

Paul Shamplina pops up on the evening ITV news

And then Paul Shamplina pops up on the evening ITV news handing out eviction notices four weeks before Christmas.

Because all landlords are heartless right?

That’s the media narrative that I’ve been railing against for weeks now.

But here’s another but. The reporter didn’t mention that the person being evicted had racked up arrears of £17,000 – and the process had taken 18 months just to get to that stage.

Don’t worry, that’s the sort of cost every landlord can absorb, apparently.

Paul spells out to Property118 readers that he explained in detail why rents are increasing and that arrears will go up next year.

None of that was used in the report, but most media outlets used the term ‘gut wrenching’ to describe them.

When you ’round up’ makes them a nonsense

For me, extrapolating the figures – and adding some more when you ’round up’ makes them a nonsense.

And yet the media scoffs this down like it’s their last supper.

The rising mortgage rates will make things worse as landlords will need to put rents up.

In addition, landlords are leaving the sector in droves for a range of reasons – none of which are helped by the likes of Shelter, Crisis or Generation Rent.

Things are bad, and all landlords know that.

But most landlords haven’t been putting rents up, it’s only with rising mortgage costs that many are forced into doing so and they fear whether their tenants can afford to pay.

So, my statistical knowledge might be rusty, but I can’t stand up Shelter’s figures accurately and it’s a shame that media outlets don’t take a closer look at what they are being told even when it is against the hated landlord population.

And why should I be so concerned? Because if we did a statistical analysis of the rogue tenants, the huge arrears and the trashing of properties that landlords face, I can guarantee no one would be interested.

Lies and damned statistics – even when they don’t make sense, people will believe them to the detriment of the landlord population. Balance and fair representation in the media? Don’t make me laugh.

Perhaps when tenants, the government, media and tenant organisations understand why rents are high and properties are few will landlords get a fair hearing. But I’m not holding my breath.

Until next time.

The Landlord Crusader

Share This Article


Ray Guselli

10:35 AM, 9th December 2022, About A year ago

Absolutely nailed it but sadly, few, perhaps except landlords will listen.

We are branded rogues, yet the media apparently accepts, some might say condones the bad behaviour of some tenants who accumulate £000's rent arrears and trash properties: but the media don't treat this as newsworthy, instead preferring to direct its venom against landords, many of whom work with tenants at every stage and try to help.

We have become social workers, carers, marriage guidance experts, furniture removers, budgeting advisors, benefit advisors and a whole raft of other requirements to help our tenants: the press/media don't seem to report or advise on that....these are just more duties and characteristics of the so called rogue landlords.....


10:57 AM, 9th December 2022, About A year ago

As Benjamin Disraeli said "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."


11:33 AM, 9th December 2022, About A year ago

Well written.


11:51 AM, 9th December 2022, About A year ago

The BBC had a program on tv a couple of weeks ago - LL bashing, I had a good go at them - which I won’t repeat here I’ve heard nothing back. We rent out to people we don’t really know with something worth many thousands of pounds - no one ever seems to mention that!


12:38 PM, 9th December 2022, About A year ago

iHowz have also been questioning how estimates are being bandied about as facts.

In the latest instance, this was in response to claims about 1 in 10 PRS homes suffering from mould. See below:

Richard Blakeway
Housing Ombudsman Service
PO Box 152
Liverpool L33 7WQ

November 21

Dear Mr Blakeway

We note with interest your comments on BBC news on Wednesday Nov 16th.

As a landlord association representing caring, law abiding landlords, we have no
problems with your comments on private landlords belonging to some form of
redress/ombudsman scheme; in fact we are sure you are aware that the Government
is actively working on this very matter.

But we were appalled at your throw-away comment that 1 in 10 properties in private
rental suffer from mould. This is especially disturbing in the light of the death of the
little boy in social housing in Rochdale, and we find it a most reprehensible, and
probably unsubstantiated claim to make.

We would be pleased for you to make a public retraction of this, unless of course, you
have inconvertible proof for this claim, which we would be please to see.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Peter Littlewood
Chief executive, iHowz

The response was less than apologetic . . .

Dear Mr Littlewood,

Thank you for your letter of 21 November 2022. Mr Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, has passed this to me for response.

As I’m sure you can appreciate, Mr Blakeway gave a number of interviews in November about the lack of redress and the lack of an Ombudsman scheme
available to private tenants. While it is not possible to recall the specifics of what was said in each one and the particular interview to which you refer, is now no longer available to review, the broad point being made in all of these interviews was that the
rate of mould, and the damp which gives rise to mould, in private rented accommodation is even higher than that of the social housing sector and yet they have no recourse.

I can confirm that the relevant statistics we used to support this particular assertion come from the English Housing Survey 2019-20. 195k of 2.5m private rented homes had serious mould – that is 8%, or 1 in 12 homes. This classification does not include homes that have light mould – the classification includes ‘extensive patches of mould
growth on walls and ceilings and/or mildew on soft furnishings’. A further 515k homes had issues with damp of some variety and potentially light mould. The statistics for 2020-21 were extrapolated from the 2019-20 survey as they were unable to conduct
the survey completely because of the pandemic, so there is no way of being certain how many of those homes with damp, or light mould that had not yet qualified to be classed as ‘condensation or mould’ by the survey, began to grow serious mould.
However, given the pandemic’s impact on repairs works, the heating crisis and cost of living crisis, I do not consider any assertion made about the rate at which private rented homes suffer from mould to be around 1 in 10 to be a throwaway comment – it
is grounded in the facts.

I would also draw your attention to the fact that the inspection rate for the English Housing Survey further highlights the need for the private rented sector to have access to recourse and/or an Ombudsman scheme, something which as you point out, is being considered by the Government.

Of the potential 4.7m private rented homes that could have been inspected, only 2.5m were, a return rate of 54%. Meanwhile, the return rate for the social housing sector was 105% - some of the social housing homes were inspected twice in the two
year period. I therefore have a high degree of confidence that the English Housing Survey reflects the true reality of the condition of social homes, but only provides a snapshot of that of private rented homes and much more needs to be done to allow
private tenants to surface their issues with their landlords and the condition of their homes.

Yours sincerely

Kathryn Eyre
Director of Quality, Engagement and Development
On behalf of Mr R Blakeway – Housing Ombudsman

- - - -

It can be argued that the reason that the almost 50% of PRS properties were not inspected is that they did not require it and the tenants are happily enjoying their well maintained homes and their local authority has not introduced arbitrary licencing.

12:56 PM, 9th December 2022, About A year ago

Fantastically well-written! We could not agree more with you!

I'm Michelle Montgomery, Operations Director for Association of Professional Property Investors and would love to have a chat with you, please.

One of our main priorities is to amplify the voices of ethical UK landlords and to help change the narrative, as we know that the many have a bad reputation due to the few.

Please let me know when you might be available to talk.


13:19 PM, 9th December 2022, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Michelle - Association of Professional Property Investors at 09/12/2022 - 12:56

Thank you for your comments.

Unless landlords stand together, government (central and local) will continue to pursue their "voter economics" approach to housing policy and standards.

It is disappointing that the majority of landlords and property investors do not join a trade association to stand up and be counted, while gaining access to education and support for their business.

I have passed your comments on to Peter


13:20 PM, 9th December 2022, About A year ago

We are being lied to all the time its the new norm take the banking crisis and then we have the covid crisis the truth comes out after the event by which time the people don't want to know as they have all gone and jabbed their kids . I just hope people will wake up and stop putting the doubters down as conspiracy theorists .
Both bad LL and bad tenants need to be put in front of a Judge Judy. sorted.


13:22 PM, 9th December 2022, About A year ago

Spot on !!!!

I suggest we use the Landlord Crusader articles, comments and related responses to retweet, repost, share with entire public via social media to try and rebalance the attack.

I dare to mention that we need a legal framework where all or most stakeholder of the sector are legally forced to make real input to improve the sector. By this I mean, mortgage lender, local authority, NGO, PRS, etc. be forced by law that they must discuss and find solutions jointly to improve the sector image as well other important matter such home improvement to meet and constant legal requirement. This cannot be on voluntary basis.. I recently approached my lender for financial advance to improve or new windows for another property and I was shocked with the offer. In 12 years of the mortgage time never had 1 day of arrear, the mortgage is about 30 - 35% loan to value with equity of over £200K. I want to draw an extra £ 40 to improve another property. But after several stress tests and fees calculation I was told that I can borrow up to £ 18K. I was diplomatic to tell them to send the offer with a self-addressed envelope so I can clean my rear with it and resend to them. The lender take the cream and dont care if the sector go down or not because the have the security to cover. For the sector to improve all stakeholders must be legal forced to make input or SHUT UP !!

Ray Guselli

15:52 PM, 9th December 2022, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Rod at 09/12/2022 - 12:38
Presumably, "none" of the mould was caused by tenant lifestyle: or did they not wish to address that?

1 2

Leave Comments

In order to post comments you will need to Sign In or Sign Up for a FREE Membership


Don't have an account? Sign Up

Landlord Tax Planning Book Now