Manchester firm denies ‘rogue landlord’ claim

Tenants allege unhealthy conditions, neglected repairs, excessive charges and abusive treatment.

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Shelter has accused Manchester firm Tame Estates of being “rogue landlords” after the housing and homelessness charity received a large number of complaints from tenants alleging unhealthy conditions, neglected repairs, excessive charges and abusive treatment.

Investigations of nine cases allege that damp has forced entire families to sleep in the same bedroom, that gardens have been flooded by blocked drains, that live electrical wires have been left dangerously exposed and windows left hanging off their hinges.

Vulnerable people

In addition, Shelter claims that the Tameside-based firm charges up to £35 a letter or phone call, has failed to provide gas safety certificates and that some repairs have been ignored for up to three years.

One anonymous former tenant with a young son said the firm left them without hot water or heating for three weeks. She said: “Tame Estates prey on vulnerable people and told such lies, saying I’d been sent rent slips when I hadn’t. I’m just glad to be out of there and in a house where I’m not being persecuted.”

Tameside Council confirmed it had received a “disproportionate” number of complaints – 21 – about the company in 2009-2010, which is 15 per cent of the total received by the authority that year. The company manages 220 homes – 2 per cent of the borough’s total private housing stock.

Further complaints

Since Shelter’s campaign against rogue landlords started last month, the charity has received a further 16 complaints about Tame Estates. It also claims Tame has subsequently reduced one tenant’s arrears bill from £2,000 to £200. The firm neither confirmed nor denied this.

The Big Issue in the North spoke to two complainants, neither of whom can be identified for legal reasons. The first, a young mother of one, faces a possession order after problems with housing benefit left her in arrears.

The second is now homeless. She and her two children are staying with friends after the firm successfully served a possession order at the beginning of September, also following problems with housing benefit. She said she now faces a £1,500 bill.

As well as the stress of eviction, both claim Tame repeatedly failed to carry out major repairs.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “We are absolutely disgusted to discover the way in which Tame Estates has treated these unsuspecting tenants.

“With more and more people now entering the sector, it is essential we rid the market of these rogues before anyone else becomes a victim.”

A Tameside Council spokesman said the authority served 20 notices against rogue landlords last year, some of whom did not understand their obligations. He added: “Experience has taught us that our informal approach gets the job done with the majority of landlords.”

Allegations denied

Tame Estates said its only charges are a £199 letting fee that “covers everything”, as well as £50 per month for tenants in arrears. It declined to comment on individual cases.
Michael Hanley, managing partner, Tame Estates, said he “totally refuted” the allegations, and added that he is taking legal advice.

He said: “I welcome Shelter’s new campaign Evicting Rogue Landlords but I am not one. At no time have Tameside Council ever commenced any form of court proceedings against us for any failure to carry out repairs to tenants property. We would be very happy to talk to Tameside Council about any repairs.

“If a tenant is unhappy about a maintenance issue, our door is always open to come and discuss further.

“We do to some extent rely on tenants reporting maintenance issues to us and when an issue is reported to us we will endeavour to address it as a matter of importance.

“I am appalled that Shelter has never approached me with any specific allegations.

“Shelter has not made any attempt to discuss the allegations with us and so they only have the tenants’ side of the story. I feel this is very rough justice indeed.”

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