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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shelter is crying wolf too often

Shelter have managed to grab headlines all over the press again. They are very good at it. Their press officers are presumably ex tabloid press, possibly ex - News of the World.

Following 'investigations', Shelter claim to have uncovered the true scale of 'revenge evictions' going on in the UK.

Well, before I go on, let's just stop there and consider the term - 'revenge evictions' - now that sounds nasty, a bit like 'revenge killings'. How very emotive of them, good work headline writers - sensational, that'll stoke the fires nicely.

Now, let's move on to the figures - which shocked me.

Shelter claim that more than 200,000 tenants live in fear of 'revenge evictions'. No wonder they got plenty of headlines with this one. It sounds awful and something that any sane landlord would consider to be wholly wrong.

So it's worth trying to understand where these figures are coming from, because it sure doesn't reflect my experience of landlords and the way they run their rental businesses. From my experience landlords just want to keep their tenants happy - I mean, who wants to lose a tenant who is paying rent unless they are behaving unreasonably?

Well, it appears Shelter generated these figures from a flimsy online survey, made up from a couple of tick boxes. Oh, internet surveys - they are always so reliable, but hold on, 200,000 that's a lot of care-free mouse clicks, so it must be reasonably reflective.

But no, the figure is extrapolated, from just 4500 people who completed the survey. There is no breakdown of who these people were, how they were sourced, or what sectors of the rental market they came from.

So it turns out, this figure of 200,000 is extrapolated out from just 2.2% of these  four thousand online respondents clicking to agree with a statement of either -

‘I was evicted or served notice because I asked for a problem in my home to be dealt with that was not my responsibility (eg repairs or conditions) in the last year’ or the statement ‘I was evicted or served notice because I complained to my local council about a problem in my home to be dealt with that was not my responsibility (eg repairs or conditions) in the last year’.

Now, it would be interesting to know what kind of percentage of 4500 people would click 'no' to the question "would you like me to give you a free car?" when completing an online survey, whether by human error, irrational act, mistrust of the question or whatever I'm sure they would also be a small percentage.

Now, let's move on to the reason. What drives Shelter to keep wanting to grab headlines by using such sensationalist headlines and 'questionable' statistics and surveys?

Well it's simple, headlines are money. Shelter appear to have realised the more sensational a headline the more coverage they get, and the more the donations fly in. This makes me question the ethics of their press releases, and I'm sure I am not the only one thinking the same.

If the private residential rented sector is to improve then surely it is about working together and not simply calling each other names.

Shelter you are crying wolf too often.

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1 comment:

Loaded said...

This goes along with my whole, 'Never believe a word I read in the papers' philosophy that has helped make me rich ignoring warnings of impending crashes, not panicking and getting out when the actual crash occurs (many years later) and not following the crowd generally. In fact, if you want to know what to do, just do the opposite of what any online or paper advice gives you. Unfortunately, that includes this...

On a separate note, generally charity directors are obscenely rewarded financially for their work, money taken from the very mouths of the people they purport to want to help. Perhaps it is time for an article on that to grab the headlines again... I wonder how much the director of Shelter is (over)paid?