Over the past few weeks we have spoke with several concerned residents and homeowners across Belfast regarding the actions or non-actions, of landlords to respect their tenants and carry out essential repairs and also of sinister vulture businesses preying on homeowners who have found hardship in the recent crisis.
One young mother currently renting a house in West Belfast, was left without heating or hot water after the outdated oil system at her home stopped working, the second time this has happened in the space of a year, after contacting the landlord she was told that due to the coronavirus he couldn’t get anyone out to the property, this mother then had to pay out of her own pocket to have someone call out. The tradesman had to change out some components which according to him were outdated and faulty and they should have been changed long ago.
The landlord in this case knew about the existing problem with his property's heating system after having his friend supposedly “fix it" months earlier, yet he used the convenient excuse of coronavirus to shirk his responsibilities to his tenants.
It’s worth noting that the young mother in question is a frontline health worker at a Belfast hospital, if she has to continue her job in the current climate then surely this slum landlord can lift a phone and pay some of his extortionate rent benefits to sort a problem with his own property.
This is just one story relating to slum landlords taking advantage of their tenants, many others are singing from the same hymn sheet.
It has further been brought to our attention that shady businesses and property agencies have been offering destitute homeowners quick sales of their properties. Just this week one such crowd, 'Property Buyers NI' used the postal service to deliver leaflets across Belfast offering to buy homes quick and with cash.
After some digging around we have found out that these companies are buying quick with cash because they are offering a heavily marked down value of the properties, they even had the audacity to state that if the owner was having trouble financially they would pay the current months mortgage and legal fees.
In a time when people are struggling financially these vultures have come knocking to prey on their vulnerabilities offering what at first glance seems to be a good deal.
We would appeal to anyone who finds themselves in this position to hold off jumping at the possibility of a quick cash sale with these parasites, because thats exactly what they are, parasites. There are services out there to help people trapped in such situations and that should be your first port of call.
Over the past few weeks it’s clear that the slum landlords and parasitic business funds have been taking full advantage of the hardships faced by working class people at this present time, but this type of activity will only continue and if left unchecked, get worse.
Belfast 32CSM will do what we can to assist those in need and will continue to highlight all cases of oppression within our communities.