The National Landlords’ Alliance – keeping it in the family

I had not intended to return to the so-called National Landlords’ Alliance, not least because they’ve been well covered elsewhere.However, a curious incident on Twitter has brought to light a potential further issue with this organisation.

Over the past few weeks I’ve had a number of replies on Twitter from someone called “Steff.” Steff seems a little obsessed with me and, specifically, what I do for a living. Over the past few months all of her tweets have been at or about me, and my employment has been a particular theme:

For the avoidance of doubt I’ve never claimed to be qualified to assist anyone: I’ve been open that I’m a layman, anyone who needs advice should see a solicitor or properly-qualified advisor. What I do for a living isn’t relevant to what I write about, I’m not going to go into it because I’ve agreed with my employers that I won’t discuss their business on social media.

But of course, this has caused me to look at who “Steff” might be. From the little information we can find in her Twitter profile, Steff appears to be from Merseyside: almost everyone she follows is from there. The National Landlords Alliance is registered to an address on Merseyside, its self-appointed CEO, and sole shareholder and Director also gives an address in Merseyside, and has written on the Property 118 website about his dealings with Liverpool and Sefton Councils.

And so it was that I looked again at who is involved in the Alliance. We’ve seen Sweeney, and also John Allan, former National Chair of the Federation of Small Business, who is their policy consultant and to whom press enquiries are directed.

However, in his article seeking members for the Alliance, Sweeney referred to another, unnamed member of staff:

Great! She sounds perfect – I wonder who this person might be? Well, here’s a likely candidate. Stephanie Sweeney (presumably a relation) has
experience in the industry (she currently works at an estate agent, and lists previous work experience at “Sweeney properties”), a journalism degree (from Liverpool John Moores University, and she did “Work Experiance” [sic] at the Liverpool Echo, where presumably she didn’t experience having to spell correctly), and lobbying experience (shadowing the Press and Parliamentary officer at the Federation of Small Business during her month as an intern, which seems to have coincided with “policy consultant” John Allan’s tenure as Chairman). All boxes checked.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with employing your family: there are plenty of family businesses. But the so-called Alliance isn’t an ordinary business, or it claims not to be: it purports to be a membership organisation funded by donations (I’m not going to call them subscriptions, because as we’ve seen before donors don’t get the benefits of membership in return). Previously I’ve asked what members of the Alliance got in return for their money, and now we know: Sweeney is paying his family out of it, or planning to.

I have no idea whether the Steff who’s been demanding to know what I do for a living is Stephanie Sweeney, but I do know this: Alliance members should ask Larry Sweeney where exactly their money is going.

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