Opinion

Would You? Could You?

David Rutland
Written by David Rutland

When an evictee freezes to death in his former back garden, is anyone to blame?

Keeping up with the news and current events is hard. In addition to Donald Trump’s and Kim Jong Un’s entertaining insult table tennis, we have the prospect of a flu pandemic putting the willies up everyone. We’re still watching the soap opera antics of celebrities accused of molesting their co-stars, extras, and assistants. Right now, for some reason, the French are rioting over chocolate spread.

It’s easy for stories to fall through the cracks – especially if your news is filtered through Facebook.

Here at rent.works, we read the news for entertainment. We don’t particularly want to be disturbed about the sad plight of real people. It upsets the sense of wa we’re accustomed to of a morning.

Imagine our horror when the story of Anthony Barnard managed to creep into our awareness on Thursday morning. We tried to avert our eyes, but it was too late. The headline had already sunk in.

“Evicted man freezes to death outside old home.”

As professional landlords, this tugged a tiny bit at our conscience. Have we evicted people? Sure – it goes with the job. It’s a pain in the neck. It’s an unnecessary aggravation. And really, we’d rather that we didn’t have to. Do we know what happened to our erstwhile tenants afterwards? Hell no. It’s not our concern.

Mr Barnard was turfed out of the property in September 2017, and had presumably been sleeping rough since then. We haven’t been able to find out whether he owned the house or was renting. It doesn’t really matter either way. What matters is that died of hypothermia (TBC) in what used to be his own back garden.

It’s sad. It tugged on our heartstrings and caused us to ask ourselves if there are any circumstances under which we wouldn’t evict a troublesome tenant who had fallen behind on their rent.

Sure there are.

If it’s unlikely we’ll be able to move another tenant in soon, then it makes a sort of financial sense to leave the current tenant in place, as at least they’re liable for council tax rather than us.

What about someone on an oxygen machine? We’d like to think we could at least pay their taxi fare to the hospital. Perhaps we’d even make an effort to get them a place in sheltered accommodation.

How about a single mother with young children? Surely there are shelters they can go to. Again, we might even dig in our capacious pockets for the bus fare. And we’re well aware that some private landlords are willing to take payment in kind.

An elderly couple? Again, we’d probably liaise with the local authority to make sure that they weren’t likely to die on the streets.

A single man in his fifties, such as Mr Barnard? Hold on there, there’s a limit. It’s not our problem.

 

About the author

David Rutland

David Rutland

With a decades long career as a professional writer, David Rutland has worked as a journalist on local, national, and international newspapers, before embarking as a career as a freelancer.

He has ghostwritten several books, as well as producing travel guides, manuals, humour articles, and more internet blogs than you can shake a stick at.

David maintains offices in East London, but spends most of his time in a shed near Liverpool, where he writes, as well as developing apps for Android.

What people say about him:

Arrogant and abrasive - Alan Davis, Editor in Chief North Wales News Group

An absolute liability - Matt Simms, Editor, Vale advertiser

Are you sure this won't get us all arrested? - Mohana Prabhakar, Editor in Chief, Apex News Group

Go and have a shave. You're all prickly - Mrs Donna Rutland.

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