21st May 2015
Greedy landlords are raking in £5.6bn a year from unsafe homes that fail to meet legal standards, claims a damning new report from Citizens Advice.
The study, which is part of the organisation’s Settled and Safe campaign found that 740,000 households in England live in privately rented homes which present a severe threat to tenants’ health.
These properties have category one hazards – the most serious of problems, which include severe damp, rat infestations and even risk of explosions.
The latest available data also highlighted these properties contain 510,000 children while 180,000 have a disabled person.
Landlords are receiving £5.6bn a year on rent for homes with category one hazards, which includes £1.3bn of housing benefit. Private renters living in these dangerous homes pay an average of £157 per week on rent.
The report also shows:
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice said that “rogue landlords are putting profits before safety”.
Guy added: “With a growing private rental sector, increasing numbers of people – including more than 500,000 children – are falling prey to landlords who fail to meet decent standards.
“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.”
There are now more than a million families raising children in privately rented homes in England – three times higher than it was a decade ago, the report, which was carried out alongside the think-tank New Policy Institute, adds.
With the cost of buying property rising steeply in many parts of the country, couples with children are now the most common household type in the private rental market.
Citizens Advice urged that private renters are woefully under-protected and have to navigate through numerous pieces of complex legislation to seek legal redress from landlords.
It added that taking court action against a landlord can be long, complicated and expensive. This is compounded by the fact many complaints have to be made to local authorities, which often do not have the capacity to act quickly.
In the last year alone, more than 80,000 people came to the charity suffering a problem with a privately rented home.
The charity is recommending: