An eviction company has caused outrage after comparing tenants to vermin in one of its advertisements.
The marketing campaign by Remove a Tenant, which targets residential property owners, features a piece of cheese below the caption: “Are your tenants pests?”
The firm offers packages to landlords and letting agents across Britain for as little as £50, and claims to have “significant expertise” in dealing with housing benefit claims.
Campaigners for tenant rights have complained that the advert on Facebook was “beyond unacceptable” and should be removed immediately.
They added that likening tenants to rodents was a “grim irony”, considering one in nine rental homes has a pest problem.
The dispute arose as a record number of tenants have been evicted from their homes in Britain, with more than 40,000 ejected in 2015, the latest figures show.
The website for Remove a Tenant, which is based in Hampton-in-Arden in Solihull, West Midlands, states: “It is often said that the law regarding tenant eviction is always on the side of the tenant. This is true to a degree and forms part of the protection against eviction.
“Tenants, regardless of circumstances, do have rights and this is why the steps taken have to be carried out correctly in order to get a successful possession.”
Housing campaigners said that the company’s advert should be taken down immediately.
The Policy Officer of housing charity Shelter, John Bibby, reacts: “It’s beyond unacceptable to see tenants being compared to rodents, and an especially grim irony when nearly one in nine private rented homes has recently had a pest problem.
“We’re amazed this advert was posted in the first place, and it should be taken down immediately. Between shelling out for colossal rents, being forced to live in flats crawling with mice or rats, and having the threat of eviction hanging over them, many renters have enough to deal with without this sort of rubbish.”
Seb Klier, the Campaigns Manager of Generation Rent, a tenant lobby group, says that comparing tenants to vermin gives an insight into the way some landlords and agents view renters.
He explains: “When trying to find a home, it’s common for renters to encounter a long list of prohibitions – no benefits claimants, no families, no pets – which not only reduces their choice on the market, but creates a negative atmosphere before anyone even moves in.
“This negativity increases in a market where a tenant who makes requests for repairs, or attempts to negotiate down proposed rent increases, is too often seen as a nuisance to be got rid of.”
He insists: “If we are serious about having a long-term, professional private rented sector in the UK, it’s vital that tenants can treat where they are living as their actual home, and not just be viewed as a temporary inconvenience to the owner of the property.”
An employee at Remove a Tenant said that a marketing company had created the adverts some time ago and the firm had not received any complaints about them.
It came as statistics last month revealed that a record number of tenants are being evicted from their homes, with more than 100 renters per day losing the roof over their heads.
The spiralling cost of renting a home and a long-running freeze on housing benefit are being blamed for the rising number of evictions.
Recently, calls were made for unregulated eviction firms to join a redress scheme.
What do you think of the controversial advert?