A report (based on research by the UK think-tank New Policy) which was made available on the 21st May 2015 highlights the fact that landlords are earning £5.6bn a year by renting out unsafe homes which fail to meet Legal standards, and also includes £1.3bn in housing benefit.
A Citizens Advice study revealed that 740,000 privately rented homes in England present a severe threat to tenants’ health, with a Nation of Renters suggesting that these properties are subject to category 1 hazards. It is worth mentioning here that category 1 hazards, are properties which fail to meet the statutory minimum standard for housing, because they pose a serious danger to health and safety. Properties that fall under this category suffer from issues like severe damp and rat infestations, a lot of which forms disrepair claims taken on by Arkas Law.
The report also shows:
16 per cent of privately rented homes are physically unsafe, with 6 per cent in the social rented market;
8 per cent of privately rented homes suffer from serious damp issues;
10 per cent pose a risk of dangerous fall;
6 per cent are excessively cold; and
Private renters living in homes with a category 1 hazard, pay an average of £157 per week on rent.
With figures showing that such properties contain 510,000 children and 180,000 people with disabilities, it is no wonder that the report has shocked so many.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice has said, ‘Rogue landlords are putting profits before safety.’ ‘The Government has rightly said it wants to tackle the country’s housing crisis – it must make targeting dodgy landlords, giving tenants better rights and driving up standards a major part of that effort.’
According to Citizens Advice, private renters are under-protected and are subjected to complex and a long-winded process to seek legal redress from landlords. ‘Taking Court action against a landlord can be long, complicated and expensive. This is compounded by the fact that many complaints have to be made to local authorities, which often do not have the capacity to act quickly.’
So, what does the charity recommend?
Tenants should be entitled to rent refunds where properties are dangerous or not fit to live in.
A national register should be set up to ensure that landlords which operate illegally, cannot evade legal c action by moving to a different area.
Councils should set up licensing to tackle specific issues in their private rental markets, to ensure that landlords are aware of their responsibilities towards quality of housing, and tenants should know what to expect from a good landlord.
When taking on disrepair claims, Arkas Law is well aware of the fact that seeking legal recourse against a private landlord is far more difficult, especially since private Landlord’s can refuse to co-operate, disappear or more alarmingly, tactfully issue evictions against tenants who choose to complain.
That being said, it seems that a campaign labelled the ‘Citizens Advice Settled and Safe’ has an answer to this problem too. The Citizens Advice campaign has successfully called for an end to retaliatory evictions, that is where landlords unfairly evict tenants who have raised problems. This type of action will be made illegal later this year, so keep an eye out, as this will give private tenants security from the fear of eviction when making complaints.