Dave’s new friend

From today’s Guardian

One of Conservative leader David Cameron’s new breed of business backers is a millionaire landlord who has been accused of using ruthless tactics against tenants. Trevor Pears, 42, whose family owns 15,000 properties, is alleged to be driving out small shops in favour of supermarkets and forcing out tenants through legal loopholes.Mr Cameron is trying to boost his party by adopting green themes and criticising big business. He has accused supermarkets of using their financial muscle to drive small shops out of business. Mr Pears is among the property tycoons and hedge fund traders who put up almost £500,000 for his leadership campaign. The tycoon has been heavily criticised by small shopkeepers in north London, where his firm owns rows of premises in Fortess Road, Kentish Town…

Such a nice friend, too. For example:

The Pears empire is estimated to be worth more than £1bn. In one year the family paid themselves a £42m dividend. But there have been repeated complaints about their methods. In 2000, they used what a court called a “repugnant” device to try to force out housing benefit tenants along the Brighton seafront. The company used the terms of obscure agreements to raise rents to an impossible £25,000 a year. It then sought evictions for arrears. The appeal court said this was “very serious”, and could have bankrupted tenants.

A Pears company bought housing blocks the same year from Greenwich Hospital, originally an elderly seafarers’ charity. Nick Raynsford, Labour MP for Greenwich and Woolwich, says the firm exploited its position once the property passed out of control of the crown. Rents were raised from £50 a week to £190 and many were forced out. Mr Raynsford said: “The Pears Group acted in a reprehensible way in their dealings with the elderly residents.”

A case of “Vote Dave, get Rachman” perhaps?