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Rent Dodger Lives Here: A Landlord Resorted to Public Shaming to Oust Rent Dodger

When landlord Elaine Stenson couldn't get her tenants to pay their rent for months and ignored legal notices to vacate the premises, she decided on a very old (medieval, actually) technique: public shaming.

And while the technique worked, it sparked an outrage by some:

A letting agency in Dundee is taking radical measures to name and shame tenants who are running up rent arrears. Lease2Keys are installing “for sale”-style signs outside properties with "Rent Dodger Lives Here", emblazoned on them. [...]

Gordon MacRae of the homeless charity Shelter is outraged by the letting agents’ actions. He said: “We thought tarring and feathering went out with the middle ages. People who find themselves in rent arrears usually have multiple reasons for being in debt.

Link - via Arbroath

Do you think it's right to publicly embarrass a rent dodger or a deadbeat?

My neighbor went through this when he rented out his house to somebody who turned out to be a serial rent dodger. The guy knew every legal trick in the book, and got to live rent-free for 6 months. In the mean time, my neighbor almost lost the house because he had depended on part of the rent money to pay for his mortgage.
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If you cannot afford the live at the place you do not deserve to stay that that place. This goes for renting and owning. This is no different than the idiots that thought it was a good idea of getting a ARM Loan on a $500K house thinking property values were do nothing but go up which is a complete contradiction in the American market place so when their interest rate started rising they could not pay and would try everything to stay in the house.
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We were trying to sell our house when the housing market did its thing and so we've had to stay here to avoid losing money on the place. I'd really love to move anyway and just rent this house out, but it's people like Alex's neighbor's renters (in the comment above me) that make me terrified to even try and rent. I absolutely think people who are thieves (which is what rent dodging amounts to) should be outed.
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Why is public shaming a big deal?

Newspapers and sometimes CNN report on the pettiest misdeeds and crimes all the time! Yet it's considered a public service.

Some landlords will hound and yell at the tenants day and night until the rent is paid. Other landlords will just change the lock, leaving the tenants out in the cold. Aren't those examples of public shaming too?
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Other landlords will just change the lock, leaving the tenants out in the cold.

This is actually illegal, hence the public shaming to try to force the tenants to move out by themselves.

On the flip side, we have to remember that these laws exist to protect renters against horrible injustices perpetrated by unscrupulous landlords. The bad thing is that there are "professional deadbeats" that exploit these laws to live rent-free for a good long while.
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Public shaming, bring it on! Maybe then people will stop being a-holes and pay up like the rest of us!
Our neighborhood has a $440 a year HOA dues. And this last neighborhood newsletter we got listed every single person that hadn't paid their dues yet. It didn't list where they lived, but I'm sure those people didn't like seeing their names on that list.

I say do it more often. Shame people in to acting like they should've to begin with.
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I have compassion for those who fall on hard times and can't pay their rent. But if you can't afford to pay your rent where you are living move to somewhere you can.
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We have friends nearby who have both lost their jobs. They have applied for rent support from the local council (that's how things are done in the UK) and have eaten through all their savings paying the rent while waiting for the machinery to grind along but still nothing is forthcoming from the council. Paperwork has been lost, letters not answered and so on.
Next month they will be failing to pay the rent as they have no money left.
While I fully understand the frustration of landlords with delinquent tenents, bear in mind that not all do it maliciously - some are in the hands of higher powers.
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I have recently found out that my landlord has let the water problem we have go for 40 years!! I encountered an elderly woman who told me she had the same problem 40 years ago when she rented my same place.

When i confronted him with this HE threatened to call the Board of Health on our small business.

Maybe there is a good reason this person is refusing to pay.
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Gurnorg, each situation is different. My parents rented out properties for decades. I've seen all type of renters. Most of the deadbeats move from one place to the other, and they didn't pay the rent because they were deadbeats. It got so good tenants were extremely difficult to find, because anybody with half-decent credit could get a house so cheaply.
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gurnorg-you have several options to get the problem fixed. Frist you can have the problem fixed and deduct the cost from you rent payment. It is legal and I have done this. It is an unpaid expense that the owner is responsible for. Second, you can place your rent in an escrow account until the repairs are complete. You would no be considered late on your rent by a court. The key to both of these is that you have some sort of documentation as to the inability of the owner to either refuse or be unwilling to complete repairs that are required by the city.

As for renters refusing to pay rent they should be publicly shamed as much as possible. I rent an apartment and go out of my way to do little repairs. Others like to abuse the places they live.
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People have a right to do what they want with their property. Government needs to get its big fat nose out of other people's business.

Honestly, if conditions in your apartment are bad, MOVE OUT. If you can't afford your apartment, FIND A PLACE YOU CAN AFFORD. It isn't the landlord's responsibility to provide you with free shelter any more than it is McDonald's responsibility to provide you with free food. If landlords could get rid of deadbeats when they wanted to, rents would be much cheaper EVERYWHERE, since honest, paying customers wouldn't have to make up for deadbeats.

If you want to understand what happens when governments interfere with voluntary transactions like this, then read this comic book:
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I'm for the public shaming. However, I'll bet that the majority of serial rent-dodgers (not persons who have fallen on hard times) don't give a rip--if you are brazen enough to explicitly not pay for a service you are receiving, you probably don't have the scruples to be embarrassed about it.
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Of course they may have good reasons for refusing to pay rent, but the fact is that they have "ignored legal notices to vacate the premises." I'm sorry if they're going through rough times or they feel for one reason or another that the homeowners do not "deserve" the rent, but the fact is, it's not their property
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Some people think that the culture of us humans is evolving. That what culturally was before, was less developed than wath came next.
And so we speak degrading about medieval times as if our society back then was near barbaric, undeveloped. Yet more and more nowadays we see the return of practices from exactly trose old undeveloped times....

More and more we see people taking justice into their own hands- An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Bloody revenge. Public shaming. Because they feel that present-day law does not provide proper means to get justice.

So does that mean we now are going back to barbaric times....?

Interesting. Very interesting.
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It's one thing to be behind on the rent, talk with the landlord, try to work out something. It's entirely different to stop paying rent, ignore requests to leave (don't you have any family?). I think she is 100% right for doing what she is doing. There's not enough shame in this country.

In fact I think newspapers should post the names and pictures of sex offenders, deadbeat dads, squatters (in this case), and repeat criminals to be on the lookout for, and lastly parolee's.

Once you have gotten your sh*t together you won't have to worry about being shamed.
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NAme and shame people for all these things and more.

Vandalism drunk driving domestic violence and so on.

Shame is a very powerful tool.

I left money with a former house mate to settle debts, money which he pocketed and moved out. So I had to pay all the bills again.

I had no way of getting the money back from him but I had one thing, I had his father's phone number.

His dad is an ex royal marine and a seriously disciplined guy.

I emailed the house mate telling him I would grass him up to his old man.

Money in my hand within 48 hours.
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Landlords and tenents need to know their rights and their responsibilities. As sure as there are deadbeat tenents there are evil landlords, but if you know your rights and live up to your responsibilities there shouldn't be problems. Where are the courts in this case? I would think if this landlord followed their legal rights then she should be able to forcefully evict this deadbeat. Maybe it's different in the UK.
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I'm for it as well. What we've lost by living in larger cities where it's easier to be anonymous is a sense of accountability. In a smaller town, you'd get a reputation and wouldn't be able to find another place to rent if you pulled this too often. Small communities can more easily "encourage" ethical and moral behavior whereas in larger cities the only recourse for the aggrieved landlord is an impersonal, convoluted, lengthy legal process. We now rely on lawyers and police to do what the neighborhood gossip could do faster and sometimes more effectively (not that gossips aren't known to abuse their power just as much as the police sometimes do).

This does go both ways. If the landlord is not living up to his responsibilities, publicly shame him, too! Let him have trouble finding a quality tenant. Landlords can run a credit check to help determine a renter's suitability but tenants don't have any similar tools at their disposal, except again by the landlord having a reputation in the community.

The "system" isn't the problem; the people in it are. Good luck trying to design a system that both protects the intended beneficiaries and doesn't allow for abuse by the clever and the motivated. Individuals are always the wild card and people are amazingly ingenious when it comes to getting something they want, whether by hook or by crook.
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In addition to shame, there's the aspect of having a widespread reputation as a deadbeat to consider. No reasonable person would extend credit to a person known as a long-term rent dodger. If a person falls suddenly on hard times, it may be possible to work out some kind of arrangement with the landlord to immediately and temporarily reduce rent, making it more likely that they can sustain their residence while looking for a new job or working at a lower pay. Doing this depends on having good relations with the landlord, of course. A person who is a reliable and pleasant tenant may be extended mercies that an erratic and troublesome tenant could never ask for.

Of course, an anonymous, uncaring or impersonal landlord will simply have the police come and haul you off for trespassing. But even a management agency is made up of people, and people can be persuaded that a tenant with a good history may be worth more than the uncertainty of a new tenant at full rent.
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I completely agree with some of the above commenters: let the shame be public.
I have been wanting to re-intorduce the stocks for some time now.
With most jails at or above capacity these days, why not let lesser offenders have the choice between a short jail time or public shaming?
Drunk driving or petty theft? One week in prison, or 5 weekends standing in a public square, with full name and offense on a poster around your neck.
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The campaign is about mis-appropation of taxpayers money. The tenant gets paid their rent directly then refuses to pay the landlord, actuyally a case for criminal law. The goverment can not expect any other result as they have not given the tenant the training, tools and support to budget correctly. Local councils have been left holding the can for this policy which shows no empathy to this section of the community. Tenants do not want or need the stress of handling large sums of money expecially as the cost of living has risen steeply.
George Stenson - Lease2Keys
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