LAST week, Glasgow City Council made a long overdue decision to ban notorious slum landlord Harpal Singh for life from letting out flats.
In 1999 Singh was found to be responsible for the deaths of two young students, James Fraser and Daniel Heron, both 20, who died when fire took hold of their basement flat and they were unable to escape because Singh had illegally fixed metal bars to the windows.
Last November, spot checks by inspectors found 14 of Singh’s properties were still unlicensed and unsafe, with six lacking basic fire safety measures so rightly installed the life ban.
I would have given him a room with bars on the windows – the jail.
This case clearly highlights the problems that can be encountered by some unfortunate tenants.
Rogue landlords out to make a quick buck at the expense of their tenant’s safety.
And given that more than 20,000 Scots families currently live in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, a tenants’ right to have affordable, clean and safe housing must be re-examined and prioritised by the Scottish Government.
However, we shouldn’t scapegoat the decent, law-abiding landlords who, as it stands, haven’t got a leg to stand on when a tenant misbehaves.
In the last week I’ve heard of two landlords being exploited by unscrupulous tenants. The first was a contrived dispute over a house in Shotts being rented out to a family.
The landlord desperately needs his home back in order to house his sick mother and, despite agreeing to give the tenant a six-month extension of the lease so they could find a new home, has been told they are going nowhere.
They have told him that, as he forgot at the outset of the lease to register as a landlord – a lease they had no complaints about signing – to sling his hook and are refusing to leave.
The shocking thing here is that the head of the family works as a public servant.
Then there is the story of a flat in Glasgow’s Queen St.
Legally registered with a reputable letting agent, it was totally wrecked by a tenant, who did a runner owing two months’ rent, and leaving the flat needing hundreds of pounds worth of repairs.
Her parting words to the agency were: “You can take me to court for the rent and damages if you want. I’ll just end up paying you back at a pound a week.”
Just two examples of the trouble, costs and strain some of Scotland’s private landlords can be put through by untouchable tenants who don’t give a damn.
Proof if any were needed, that it’s not just tenants’ rights that should be improved and given more legal protection, but also those of Scotland’s Private Landlords.
After all, it is they who have done more to alleviate the current housing crisis than any council or government.