Memories of a remarkable man

 

Mary Latham, Patrick Jacobs and John Socha share memories of a remarkable man, Geoffrey Cutting.
Mary Latham, Patrick Jacobs and John Socha share memories of a remarkable man, Geoffrey Cutting.

Geoffrey Cutting MBE passed away on 13th June aged 88 years old. Those of us who were privileged to work with Geoffrey and who continue the work that he started with the Small Landlord Association (SLA), now the National Landlords Association, have very fond memories of this remarkable man.

Patrick Jacobs, Financial Director of the NLA, worked with Geoffrey from his early days at the SLA.

“Geoff’s drive – writing papers, campaigning at party conferences, publishing articles and more – eventually lead to the 1988 Housing Act and the start of the private-rented sector as we know it today.

His unique method of dealing with recalcitrant members in meetings: let them rant, get it off their chest, then move to the next ‘hand up’ without comment, was effective.”

John Socha, the NLA’s Representative for Northampton, took over from Geoffrey as Chair of the SLA in 2000 before handing over to David Salusbury in 2003.

“Geoff was always a fount of knowledge about the private-rented sector.  He had previously retired from running another trade association so I was surprised when he took on the running of another such body.

He compiled and wrote Residential Renting, the SLA’s magazine, aided only by an audio typist until we changed it to UK Landlord and brought in paid editorial staff.

Geoff did all his work as a volunteer until I helped him recognise the value of paying those working for the Association who should be remunerated by means of a salary.  This led on to the structure that we have today both for office staff and our team of local representatives.

The project that he invested most personal time in was National Federation of Residential Landlords (NFRL).  The objective was to bring together all the smaller landlords’ associations together under one coherent voice.  This was Geoff’s final project, but as he gradually wound down his involvement with landlord matters as personalities changed on the NFRL council. The disparate organisations, with differing local agendas, meant that Geoff’s vision of a coherent landlord’s voice was difficult to realise.

The cost of contributions became a big burden for the Small Landlords Association, by now The National Landlords Association, and ultimately we used the monies to run our own organisation.

The National Landlords Association is the realisation of Geoff’s vision of a coherent and reasonable voice for landlords’ views nationally, being listened to both in government and the media.

It took over 20 years, but the excellent base that was inherited from Geoff’s time in charge, laid the foundations on which to build the organisation that we have today.”

Mary Latham, the NLA’s Regional Representative for the West Midlands, shares her memories of Geoff.

I too have very fond memories of Geoffrey, who worked tirelessly for landlords for so many years and all at his own expense.  One of my best memories was when we worked together as members of the Executive Committee of the National Federation of Residential Landlords (NFRL).  When Geoffrey spoke he closed his eyes “so that he could concentrate” and he began by telling us all not to interrupt him because he would forget what he was saying – in fact his mind was a sharp as a man half his age and this was an excellent ploy to make everyone shut up and pay attention.  He was a very smart man.

Geoffrey worked alone on the production of the Residential Renting Magazine and he wrote every word himself, early on with pen and paper and later with the help of a dictating machine. This took hours of his time but it was his passion and it kept us all fully informed about everything that was happening in the PRS throughout the UK. At that time it was the only magazine of its kind. He was the father of UKLandlord Magazine.

I remember Geoffrey’s “office” very well.  It was in central London on the ground floor of a tower block and it had previously been a butchers shop.  The whole place was full of Residential Renting Magazines going back years and then there were long tables all covered in sheets of paper which were his notes for the issue that he was working on at the time.  As I left the office he told me to “go quickly before someone throws water over the balcony of the flat above”.  His office was very salubrious, for the largest landlords association in the UK and a long way from the NLA offices of today on Albert Embankment! This is a reminder that a few people, like Geoffrey, started from humble beginnings and laid down the foundations of what the NLA has become. Without those people the doors of Parliament would still be closed to us today.

I shall always remember Geoffrey, who reminded me of a character from a Dickens novel, as he sat at his desk peering over his half rim glasses.  He was a tiny man on a big mission “to gain respect for the many private landlords who provide decent homes to so many people”.  Every landlord in the country should be grateful to a man who really did make a difference. Rest in peace Geoffrey – you have earned it.

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