Salvation Army branded a “rogue landlord”

Christian charity the Salvation Army has been labelled a “rogue landlord” after exposing some of its tenants to “serious hazards” for at least seven years, a joint investigation by The Guardian and ITV News found.

Renters in Hadleigh, Essex, have complained of living with hazards including fire risks, damp, and vermin investigations, as one accused the charity of behaving like a “rogue landlord”.

Problems were first flagged in 2014, while in 2018 the charity led 40 tenants to believe they were being evicted rather than paying to correct the issues.

The Salvation Army owns more than 1,700 properties, most of which are used by its officers, including 40 in Hadleigh

The charity receives donations and legacies from the public of more than £100 million a year.

In 2019 a local environmental health officer at Castle Point Council wrote to the charity to describe its handling of the situation as a “sordid mess”. The letter confirmed there were “significant housing disrepair” in Salvation Army properties” in the area, including category two and one hazards – the latter of which is the most serious offense, where issues can lead to life threatening issues.

The Guardian and ITV News indicated that conditions haven’t improved since that warning was issued three years ago.

Castle Point council has served improvement notices on a number of Salvation Army properties in Hadleigh.

Salvation Army has issued an “unreserved apology” and said it had begun the process of surveying the properties and renovating vacant homes urgently.

The Guardian and ITV News had Steve Mackenzie, an independent fire safety expert, inspect one property.

He said the building was a “fire trap” for a number of reasons, like inadequate fire detection and no separation of the roof from one flat to the other.

He called the Salvation Army’s conduct towards its Hadleigh tenants “delinquent, negligent, [a] breach of legislation, criminally negligent”, adding: “The defects we are seeing in statutory contraventions are unforgivable. It is not allowed and they are delinquent under law.”

Peggy Jane Smith, a Salvation Army tenant in Hadleigh for 38 years, whose home was found to be a fire risk, said: “[The Salvation Army’s] behaviour [has been] of a rogue landlord. It’s very hard to try and tell people that because it’s not what people want to believe, but the unfortunate thing about the Salvation Army is, on the one side they have their spiritual side, but on the other side they’re behaving like hard-nose, unscrupulous, capitalists.”

Meanwhile, Jeff Charlton, managing director of the environmental health consultancy Building Forensics, inspected a different Salvation Army property in Hadleigh, and found mould on a wall next to the bed of an asthmatic child.

Comments 1

  1. The council comes out as badly as the landlord in this case, if not worse for not doing their job properly and not taking enforcement action after the soft approach did not work! I guess if this was a small landlord they would have been hung out to dry with the council saying how they do not accept bad landlords on their patch.

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