Researchers at Citizens Advice have made claims in a report that tenants pay private landlords £5.6 billion a year to live in homes that are not safe to live in. They say 740,000 homes in England’s private rented sector contain serious risks to health, including rat infestations, damp, and risks of explosion.
The National Landlords Association has not reacted kindly to the brutal report, accusing Citizens Advice of using “loose definitions to compound a perception that private housing is insecure and unsuitable across the board.”
According to the NLA, the evidence points the other way. The English Housing Survey findings show that damp is present in less than half the number of homes today as was the case in 1996. Although the private rented sector has more instances of damp than social rented or owner occupied dwellings, that is thought not to be due to landlord negligence, but because of the number of older properties in the sector that are more prone to damp.
The number of homes failing to meet the decent homes standard has fallen 14% in 7 years, and this hasn’t yet factored the improvements new legislative requirements to install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide alarms will have from October 2015.
In terms of security, the average length of residence for private renters is 3.5 years, and only 7% of all tenancies are ended by the landlord. According to NLA research, 86% of families consider their rented properties as their ‘home,’ and just 0.5% say they’ve had to move because their landlord increased the rent.
The NLA rejects the assertion that the sector is failing to deliver what consumers want. They recognise bad practice exists, and wish to see it stamped out by enforcing already existing laws and relieving pressure on the market by building more houses.