How migrants snatched our homes

Posted by on September 24, 2010 at 12:54 pm.

This story in the Express could’ve been a proper piece of journalism. Instead it’s just an excuse for demonising some immigrants, that from the sounds of it, are just as much the victims of a scam as some home owners.

Some home owners have left their properties, one to renovate it and another to walk his dog (and became ill and didn’t return for two days) only to find immigrants, Lithuanians no less, have moved in.

Both home owners are quoted as saying when they confronted their new tenants, the new occupiers have been paying rent and local residents “fear a ring of bogus estate agents may be watching their houses, waiting for them to leave before moving illegal tenants in.”

So as a responsible journalist what would you have done? This is just ripe for a good bit of investigative journalism. You have some shady chaps renting out other peoples houses they have no right to rent out. You have some innocent families being duped into thinking they’re legitimately renting a home and some shocked and horrified home owners. Bad guys and not one, but two different sets of victims.

Surely a quick knock on the door, ask who they’re paying rent to and then go and visit the shady estate agents. Job done. You got a story and possible helped towards sorting out the mess to boot.

But no. The tack the Express tacks is oh, so predictable…

A GANG of Lithuanian squatters is behind a terrifying scam in which people’s homes are seized and locks changed while they are out, it has emerged.

The illegal tenants have been holed up in one property for at least five months and the authorities are powerless to evict them without a court order.

In another case, an elderly man took his dogs for a walk and returned home to find the Lithuanian gang had moved in and were throwing all his possessions out of the window and into his front garden.

The gang is in fact a family and the Lithuanians are not the ones behind the scam, ‘snatching our homes’, the dodgy estate agents are. The phrase ‘holed up’ implies that the new occupiers are barracaded in.

The Lithuanians are also labelled violent when, by the proper home owners accounts, there was only shouting, which can be intimidating but is hardly violent.

It’s all there already in the story, but framed in such a way that the immigrants are the ones at fault.

The houses were probably chosen by the dodgy estate agents because of ease of entry to the properties and the immigrants were chosen as easy targets because of being unfamiliar with the laws and ways of the land and may not have a good grasp of English.

The people the Express should be railing against isn’t the Lithuanians being taken for a ride but the didgy estate agents. But that would mean taking to dirty foreigners and the estate agents are more than likely British, so we won’t mention them too much, shall we?

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