by Mark Johnston
Complaints About Private Landlords Rise.
According to recent research by Shelter, the homelessness charity, complaints about landlords have leapt in the last three years.
The charity surveyed each local authority in England about complaint rates, and found that the number of complaints had increased by 27 per cent since 2009.
Of those complaints, 62 per cent were about serious and even life threatening hazards such as dangerous gas and electrics and severe damp.
It therefore seems that, according to the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA), the lack of regulation of landlords is leaving many tenants exposed across the UK.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said that the situation could be even worse, as they found that a significant number of councils seemed reluctant to record tenant complaints at all.
These figures show that despite the significant increase in complaints, that the number of rogue landlords is still somewhat underestimated.
Tenants often hold back from complaining out of fear of the consequences or because they do not believe their voices will be heard, even though such a high proportion of complaints are about life-threatening issues.
Research has shown that these landlords not only condemn their tenants to living in rundown, unsafe, or overcrowded properties, which often severely harm their health and well being, they also blight their local neighbourhoods with increased refuse, sewage, and antisocial behaviour.
The National Private Tenants Organisation which is a group representing the interests of those living in the private rented housing sector has now started the ‘keep renting safe campaign’. This particular campaign is calling for compulsory inspections of the electrical installations and appliances supplied to tenants by landlords in all privately rented homes.
In this day and age it is reasonable to expect that every home that is let meets a decency standard.
Shelter are also running a national campaign to tackle the problem of the small minority of private sector landlords who are renting out homes that are in an appalling state of disrepair, and deliberately exploiting vulnerable tenants.
The new housing minister, Mark Prisk, said that “all people deserved safe accommodation.” The housing minister also added that he was “appalled by the living conditions faced by some tenants as a result of irresponsible landlords”.
Therefore the government has now pledged to set up a dedicated rogue landlord taskforce, they will also invest £1.8 million to deal with ‘sheds with beds’ and remove limits to the fines imposed on rogue landlords. On top of this this they have also just released rogue landlord guidance to all local authorities.
Chris Norris, head of policy at the National Landlords Association (NLA), suggests that “Local authorities must concentrate on using their existing powers to target the criminals who exploit those who rely on the private-rented sector for their homes.”
Recent figures have however shown that there has also been a large increase in the number of successful prosecutions against private landlords, up 77 per cent to 487.
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