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All landlords are bastards

Is owning a home to rent out always an inherently malevolent thing to do? We run through the common landlords we’ve met to investigate.

24 Aug 2022

Illustrations by Heedayah Lockman

The cost of living crisis, the energy bills crisis, the housing crisis… it’s a bad time to be one of the UK’s 13 million who are renting their homes from private landlords. Maybe #NotAllLandlords are the epitome of evil, but can one ever ethically have their mortgage paid for by someone who’ll never be able to afford their own house? (We’ll give you a clue: No!)

The gal-dem team has put together a helpful guide to explain why all the different types of landlords we’ve come across are trash in their own special ways. 

The influencer landlord 

They’ve graduated from the property investment school of TikTok and YouTube. Just like Molly Mae, they worship the mantra that we all have the same 24 hours in a day – and they’re using theirs to buy up properties in small, recently-gentrified areas across the UK. Their idol is Steven Bartlett of ‘The Diary of a CEO’ and they think that if everyone hustled their way by flipping properties, poverty would be eradicated. Though when you point out that a few can only benefit from a capitalist system by oppressing others, their “user is no longer available”. And no, their deposit didn’t come from ‘saving £1 a day for 10 years’; they just coaxed everyone they know into lending them money by promising wild returns.

The reluctant ‘prosecco socialist’ landlord

It’s sort of like having a housemate except they’re actually your landlord. They’ve had a house bestowed upon them by their eccentric aunt who lives in Paris, who bought the five-bedroom mansion in Archway back in the 1990s and has already paid off the mortgage. But they don’t want you to think they have a silver spoon in their mouth, so they let you live with them for “mates’ rates” for a bit. They love to talk about socialism at dinner parties and post housing crisis infographics on social media, but they’re still going to charge you rent because living in their house for free would be ridiculous. Funnily enough, while you work overtime to make ends meet, you’re not sure all of your rent money reaches your friend’s aunt because there seems to be some passive income conveniently paying for your flatmate/landlord’s short film and failed theatre career. You have no choice over any of the interiors, and they’ll kick you out with no warning to move their partner in – but they’ll blame it on their aunt suddenly deciding to come back for good. Never mind the fact that you’ve helped pay off the next mortgage for a family holiday home in Cornwall. 

The landlord who’s potentially a ghost

You’ve never spoken to them on the phone. You’ve never laid eyes on them. You’re wondering, do they even exist? This is the landlord that usually deals with you through their associates or estate agents – god forbid they deign to speak to you directly! Mysterious, elusive and completely unresponsive to any tenant needs. You’ve googled them once and realised they actually live abroad! And have a disgustingly big property portfolio! Good luck getting them to fix that leaky shower. And if your rent is even 10 minutes overdue, they will haunt you until you cough up.

The uni landlord

You think you’ve struck a goldmine. Instead of paying rent to a leech with 30,000 properties in your uni town, your friend’s parents have decided to get a slice of the pie and use the rent you’d normally pay for a nice new property to become uni landlords themselves. Ah, at least now your money will go to someone you know! The capitalist system can be so generous sometimes. Your friend’s parents seemed so chill at first, but then they’ll come round and inspect the property at the end of the tenancy and passively “tease” you over some Blu Tack marks. “Don’t worry,” they’ll say. “We’ll just keep your deposit instead.” Only when it comes to getting your deposit back, you realise that you never signed any contracts or put your money in a safe deposit scheme. And there’s no way you’ll take your friend’s family to small claims court. Oh, and this is also the friend who will make you pay back £1.50 for fuel money after giving you a lift back from the library that one time.

The Tory landlord

Let’s be real, all landlords are Tories, even if they don’t know it yet, and loads of people in the Tory party are literally landlords. You gag every time the money disappears from your account each month knowing you’re funding their heated swimming pools and summer homes in the Cayman Islands. You’ll already be paying above market rate for a home that’s not fit for habitation, but this landlord will decide to up it in the middle of a cost of living crisis – which they helped create. And when there was all that talk about rent freezes to help people during the pandemic, your landlord just told you to get another job.  

The ‘nice’ landlord 

Often an older couple who are dawning on a mid-life crisis and think buying a second home will save them from their inevitable divorce. Their kids have now grown up and flown the nest, so the only thing they have left to talk about is their favourite ITV drama or which neighbour got the bin days wrong. The husband would rather buy a sports car but the wife wants a passion project; a doer-upper. So, they compromise on buying a home to rent out. 

The landlord who’s ‘just popping in’

Usually found living in close proximity (by that, we mean literally in the flat above or on the same street). This landlord is perennially ‘popping in’ for a chat (and a snoop around). It’s either that or they just ‘happened to be in the neighbourhood’… twice a week. They try to treat you more like a mate than a landlord, but it’s clear who holds the power every time they illegally invite themselves round for a cuppa and start eyeing up the place – eyes darting around looking for any signs of dirty dishes, broken fixtures or secret subletting. Keep at an arm’s length. 

The career landlord

The 50-something-year-old dude who is ambiguously ‘in property’. His day-to-day consists of posting relentless letters that read, “I’m buying properties in your area. Can I buy yours?” to unsuspecting folks. He’s constantly tweeting, “If you cancel Netflix you can afford a house deposit,” and DMing you to get you into Forex trading. It’s unclear how he has made his money (probably fraud or secret inheritance) but that doesn’t stop him from claiming to be “self-made” and getting his property portfolio from working hard.

Yes…all landlords are trash, so now what?

Now that we can all agree that there is no such thing as an ethical landlord, why not play a part in the fight to end landlordism? Join a local renters’ union, support a political party fighting for better housing rights and get involved in campaigns calling for an end to the housing crisis.