News: Long-standing critic of agents and landlords quits charity position

Thu, 18 Apr 19

One of the most vocal critics of lettings agents in recent years appears to be moving away from the property industry.

Campbell Robb has most recently been chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Federation, a think tank which has often commented critically on the role of agents and landlords in the private rental sector.

Two years ago, shortly after Robb took the reins at the JRF, the organisation came into conflict with the Residential Landlords Association.

The RLA worte an angry letter of protest to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation following the publication of what it describes as a “misleading and distorted” report into evictions in the private rental sector.

The association said at the time it was“seriously concerned about the potentially misleading and distorted presentation of official statistics on repossessions.” This included the assertion by the JRF that “the number of tenants evicted by private landlords exceeded the number evicted by social landlords for the first time in 2014.”

The RLA said that, by contrast, Ministry of Justice data clearly showed that in every year since 2014 social sector landlords have made more claims to repossess a property than private sector landlords.

However, Robb’s clashes with the agency and landlord sectors began before he joined the JHF and when he was at Shelter.

In 2015 it was the RLA again that took Robb - then Shelter chief executive - to task for what it described as “emotionally charged” media statements about alleged harassment of tenants in the private rental sector.

Shelter had claimed 125,000 tenants had suffered abusive behaviour from landlords in the one year, although the number of tenants cited as calling its helpline was in fact under 17,000.

Robb is now quitting the JRF and appears to be leaving the housing sector completely; he is taking up the role of chief executive of Nacro, a social justice charity majoring in assisting those coming out of prison.

A spokesperson for the JRF says Robb had “led a comprehensive change programme across the organisation which has put values and outcomes at the heart of what we do.”


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