Paul Routledge, owner of the tenant blacklisting Landlord Referencing website, launched the business on the back of a lurid tale about being stabbed in the head by a rogue tenant after interrupting a drug deal in one of his properties.
In an interview on youtube Routledge tells how this experience in 2010 inspired him to set up the website on which landlords can place tenants on a blacklist as well as share ‘lifestyle’ information about former tenants. Whilst no-one was ever prosecuted for the attack on Routledge it did give him a publicity boost in the early days of his blacklisting service. It might even have elicited some sympathy from his critics. Despite his site being a recipe for abuse and landlord enforced homelessness, it is possible to understand why he might have taken such drastic action after a horrific attack.
But it’s simply not true that Routledge was inspired by this event. Routledge first set up a tenant blacklist in 2000 as this copy of Resistance (PDF), the newsletter published by the Anarchist Federation reveals.
Routledge claimed back then that he was inspired to set up the service by the News of the World’s decision to publish details of paedophiles. The multi-millionaire landlord said he had let to tenants who had turned out to be drug dealers, whilst other tenants had removed carpets from his properties and he had been burgled countless times – although what this has to do with bad tenants is unclear.
According to Routledge: “I had to do something about it. It’s like the News of the World printing the names of paedophiles. OK, some paedophiles might have suffered but someone had to start it off”.
The site, called LandlordsData.com, drew controversy at the time even winning a Big Brother award from Privacy International for the Most Appalling Project in 2002.
Ultimately the project seems to have failed and Routledge was still managing to let his properties to drug dealers as late as 2010 when he was attacked.
His resurrected blacklist has drawn heavy criticism recently largely due to comments left by landlords on his internet forum. These suggest tenants have been blacklisted because they had a dog, had a dispute with their landlord over money, were accused of smoking cannabis or in one case simply for being ‘lazy and rude’.
Many other forum members, and Routledge himself, have made comments about tenants on benefits which are just plain nasty, whilst other landlords registered with the company claim they wouldn’t let to some ethnic groups.
Paul Routledge’s (@Paul_Rout) defence of his blacklist is that landlords are good honest people who would never lie about a tenant. Yet he cannot even bring himself to tell the truth about what inspired his business. Can this man really be trusted to be the gatekeeper of the community he styles himself as?
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