Opinion Regulation


David Rutland
Written by David Rutland

Landlords and MPs are feeling inSecure about new deposit rules. In some cases, they’re the same person

It must be horrible to wake up every day as Bob Blackman, Member of Parliament for Harrow East, who is currently serving on the Communities and Local Government Select Committee.

Every day, he looks in the mirror and wonders who is going to try and rip him off. Who is going to attempt to take advantage of his own generous good nature and fleece him for all he’s worth.

At least, that’s what we imagine goes through his head, as he brushes his teeth and heads downstairs for breakfast with his lovely wife, Nicola.

Here’s some context in case you’re wondering what the hell we’re on about. Last week, the Tenant Fees bill  passed its final reading in the House of Commons, and received royal assent. This means that security deposits are capped at the equivalent of five weeks rent, default fees are limited, and there are moderately heavy fines for landlords who flout the rules.

There were attempts to cap deposits at three weeks rent, but Mr Blackman was suspicious of those dastardly tenants getting one over on their kind-hearted and vulnerable landlords.

Tenants with short term agreements would have “No incentive whatsoever to pay the last months rent,” he said.

What could have happened in Bob Blackman’s life to make him so cynical? We suspect that he has a problem with Muslims, as he has not-quite-apologised to the Muslim Council of Britain for sharing anti Muslim facebook posts to his friends and followers. The council, for their part, said that Blackman had a, ‘consistent record of giving a platform to bigots.’

Almost exactly two years ago, he hosted anti islam campaigner Tapan Ghosh – an enthusiastic supporter of Muslim genocide, and more recently he removed himself from a number of racist groups and denied knowing he was a member.

Perhaps Blackman had a bad experience with Muslim tenants failing to pay their rent on time. That would account for his distrust of both groups, although not for his troubling amnesia.

Sorry. We failed to mention that Bob Blackman, along with his wife, Nicola, have a not insubstantial property portfolio, and three years ago The Londonist singled out the couple for their “mini buy-to-let empire” based in Welwyn Garden City.

But it could be something else. Blackman’s fear of deposit stealing, rent avoiding, fly-by-night dishonesty could be rooted in something closer to home. Eight miles closer to home in fact. In 2015, Blackman, a member of the European Research Group, was ordered to pay back a very modest £1,000 in expenses claimed for “inaccurate mileage.” Claiming that a two mile journey was 10 miles, and repeating that and similar claims 732 times, could be seen than a little more than inaccurate.

In fact, an Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority probe wrote to the MP, stating that his, “claims are almost twice the distance shown on Google Maps and in some cases significantly more,”

The fine related only to claims he submitted after an initial telling-off by the IPSA compliance officer.

Perhaps Bob should ask for accounting assistance from Nicola, his wife, who he employs “as a part-time Office Manager on a salary up to £39,999.”

Back to the original question. Why is Bob Blackman’s default view seem to be that people will rip you off if you let them? Why does he see people as fundamentally dishonest and ready to take what they can?

It’s a mystery to us.

If Mr Blackman’s Welwyn garden tenants do neglect to pay a portion of the final month’s rent, he can reassure himself that they weren’t necessarily being dishonest, it was simply inaccurate.

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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