Page last updated at 15:55 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 16:55 UK

'Rent dodger' signs put on homes

The letting agent said the signs were a last resort

A letting agent in Dundee is naming and shaming people who are not paying their rent by placing a "rent dodger lives here" sign on their windows.

Elaine Stenson, from Lease2keys, put one of the notices up on a flat in the city and said she had many more she was willing to use.

She wants to highlight that some people who receive housing aid money from taxpayers are keeping the cash.

Homeless charity Shelter has described the move as "draconian".

Mrs Stenson said she had felt frustrated since the rules on local housing allowance were changed last April.

That meant that instead of the money going straight to the private landlord, it went to the tenant.

Mrs Stenson said some tenants refused to hand over the cash, which was unfair on the taxpayer and those who do pay up.

I have had several inquiries from landlords requesting some of my signs
Elaine Stenson

She said she used the signs for the first time on the Morgan Street property, and the tenant moved out when they heard what was going to happen.

"This is absolutely a last resort," she said.

"We had done everything within our powers to keep the communication lines open with the tenant, but if the tenant decides that they are not going to answer the door to us, they're not going to answer telephone calls, they're not going to answer letters, they just point blank refuse to communicate with us, then only in those circumstances would I use a sign.

"I have had several inquiries from landlords requesting some of my signs.

"When we were putting the sign up there was a tenant walking past, and we've got a tenant in the office just now, and they're all for it."

'Public humiliation'

Shelter Scotland said it would be writing to Dundee City Council to highlight its objection to the signs.

The charity said that landlords have to be registered with the council and meet a "fit and proper person" test. It said the behaviour of the letting agent fell short of the standard.

Martin Wilkie-McFarlane, manager of Shelter Dundee Housing Aid Centre, said: "I thought tarring and feathering went out in the middle ages.

"Most tenants who fall behind in their rent face multiple money problems, particularly in the current economic climate with a recession, an escalating debt crisis and rising unemployment.

"Exposing people in debt to public humiliation is an unacceptable and draconian measure.

"It is easy to label people without full knowledge of the facts. I am sure that Lease2keys wouldn't wish to be treated the same way they are treating their tenants."

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