Ten months after Edinburgh City Council’s decision to ban Mark Fortune from renting out properties in the city, the millionaire landlord is still in business. Fortune is appealing the council’s decision, and this allows him to continue acting as a landlord until the appeal process has been completed. At the time of writing no date has been set for his appeal hearing.
Since EPTAG was founded in 2011, we have campaigned for criminal landlords to be banned. The group was started by former Mark Fortune tenants, and today we are still being contacted by dozens of his current tenants looking for help.
The flats rented out by Fortune’s company, 4M Limited, are often in a poor state of repair. Tenants have reported problems with damp and mould, and one flat was left without heating or hot water for over six months. Two years ago Fortune was convicted of breach of the peace and fined £650 after threatening to have two tenants shot when they carried out repairs themselves and then asked to be reimbursed for the costs.
EPTAG believes that the City of Edinburgh Council is not doing enough to protect tenants from criminal landlords like Mark Fortune. While council staff in Edinburgh have struggled to control one landlord, an FOI request has shown that their colleagues in Glasgow have banned fifty four. Landlords who do not register with their local authority can be prevented from collecting rent until they provide evidence to the council that they are a “fit and proper person” to rent out properties; since 2010 Glasgow City Council has used this power 1,182 times, but it has only been used twice in Edinburgh.
This lack of enforcement is an embarrassing oversight from our local council. The high demand for rented properties in Edinburgh leaves many tenants with no opportunity to exercise consumer choice and simply avoid the worst landlords. We need the council to enforce the minimum legal standards in private rented housing.
Watch this space – EPTAG will soon be taking action on this issue…