Disaffected landlords are to try and launch a mass boycott of the businesses that support Shelter, starting with B&Q and moving on to Marks & Spencer, with others to come.
Last night Shelter paid tribute to the two named businesses, while B&Q said that Shelter was the right organisation for it to work with.
The National Landlords Alliance is starting its protest with DIY chain B&Q, but will be targeting other stores in due course, including Marks & Spencer, which has contributed millions towards Shelter.
B&Q has helped fund Shelter since last year, and this Christmas plans to raise £25,000 through sales of dolls where at least £2 will go towards Shelter.
Some landlords have already written to B&Q to warn them that they will no longer be making any purchases there.
They include Dr Ros Beck who told B&Q in her letter: “I am a private landlord who has known for some time that B&Q has been helping to fund Shelter. So far, I have chosen to ignore this unpalatable fact, but frankly I have had enough now.”
She says that Shelter claims to help people get housing: “Well, frankly, the only way they can do that is by persuading private landlords to take the risk of housing homeless people – as there is practically no social housing available for this purpose.
“In addition to allegedly helping people into housing we have also heard how they and others ‘help’ tenants remain in their housing by informing them that they can wait for the bailiffs in cases of eviction – a process which is ruinous and devastating for landlords.
“You might think that given the fact that we are the only housing providers in a position to help with homelessness that they would build positive relationships with us in order to facilitate this.
“They do not do this, however.
“Instead, they push a relentless anti private landlord agenda.
“I have asked that they rename themselves as they provide no shelter, whilst demonising those of us who do.”
Her letter to B&Q continues: “Considering all of this, you really need to remove your support for this organisation.
“I have already decided to no longer shop at B&Q for the materials needed for my large portfolio of houses in south Wales.
“There is a Wickes practically next to my B&Q, as well as a Howdens nearby, so this will have no effect on my business.
“And as more and more landlords are alerted to this – something which is happening at the moment – you are going to lose the custom of your loyal landlord base because of what amounts to an (unintentional, I am sure) betrayal of your customers.”
The National Landlords Alliance was set up by Liverpool landlord Larry Sweeney, partly in protest against the existing landlord associations. It says it does not sell training courses or “get into bed with local authorities” to the detriment of members.
Yesterday evening, Shelter’s director of fundraising Andy Harris told EYE: “Shelter’s partnership with B&Q provides vital funding for a specialist team of DIY Skills Advisers, as well as much-needed support for our other vital frontline services, helping thousands of people every year.
“The B&Q DIY Skills Advisers are located across the country, and provide practical help to people settling into a new home after a period of homelessness, as well as supporting others to stay in their current home by making essential improvements.
“This includes teaching basic DIY skills, such as how to paint walls, in addition to carrying out key jobs like fitting extra security locks.
“Thanks to B&Q’s generous support, this service alone has helped almost 1,400 people to create homes where they can feel happier, safer and more secure.”
He said of the relationship with Marks & Spencer: “M&S has been supporting Shelter’s helpline for 13 years, and donate 5% of each sale from its Festive Collection.
“In that time M&S have raised an incredible £3.4m for Shelter’s emergency helpline – allowing us to answer hundreds of thousands of calls from people faced with homelessness or bad housing.
“Last year, this crucial contribution funded every call answered by the helpline over the Christmas period.”
A B&Q spokesperson told us: “At B&Q we believe everyone should have a home that they can feel good about and recognise that this is not the case for many people.
“As the leading UK wide charity tackling the issues that impact both poor housing and homelessness, we believe that Shelter is the right organisation for us to work with.
“Our work with Shelter funds a team of DIY Skills Advisers (DIYSAs) and supports Shelter frontline advice services.
“We regularly review the impact our partnership is having and we are happy with how Shelter is investing the funds that we donate.”
Other backers of Shelter include British Gas and Nationwide.