Have we gone too far in vilifying landlords? | Patrick Collinson

Rogue landlords bring down standards and should be rooted out, but abusing perfectly decent ones is beyond the pale

I don’t think the Money pages of the Guardian can ever be accused of being pro-landlord. During the extraordinary rise of buy to let we have consistently pointed out its broader social impact, given a voice to groups such as Priced Out and Generation Rent, highlighted abusive practices by letting agents, tried (though not always successfully) to avoid a style of reporting in which house price rises are a good thing, and, more recently, campaigned against the exploitation of leaseholders by freeholders.

But has the vilification of some landlords gone too far? Last week, we published the tale of one landlady who is quitting the buy-to-let market for a mix of reasons, including the new tax hikes. It attracted a vast amount of abuse from people who posted comments online. But it went beyond that, with the author hunted down on Facebook and subject to nasty postings. On Google, her health status was identified, then shared online. One person even went so far as to make up fake one-star reviews of her book on Amazon. The site has removed the offending reviews.

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