Shelter have revealed that they have found, following their submission of a freedom of information request to all 326 councils across England (and receiving responses from 310), that there have been 85,000 complaints made about private landlords in the last 12 months, a rise of 27% from three years ago.
62% of these complaints were about serious and life-threatening hazards. 781 of the cases, private landlord behaviour or neglect involved health services.
Campbell Robb, Shelter’s Chief Executive said, “Despite the significant increase in complaints, we believe that the number of rogue landlords is still underestimated – some local authorities don’t keep records of complaints and tenants often hold back from complaining out of fear of the consequences or because they don’t believe their voices will be heard, even though such a high proportion of complaints are about life-threatening issues.”
Local authorities have identified a total of 1,449 private landlords who have given them cause for concern in the last year.
More positively, however, they also found that there had been 487 successful prosecutions against private landlords last year, a 77% rise, showing that there has been a crackdown on rogue landlords. The majority of these were in a handful of local councils, including Leeds, Manchester, Salford, and Newham.
The Government has recently stepped up to the rogue landlord challenge by pledging to set up a dedicated rogue landlord taskforce, invest £1.8m to deal with ‘sheds with beds’, and remove limits to the fines imposed on rogue landlords. Just over a month ago, new guidance was issued to local councils to help them to clamp down on rogue landlords. Then Housing Minister Grant Shapps spoke in no uncertain terms about the exploitation of vulnerable tenants by ruthless landlords, saying, “I want to see all agencies from councils to the police and the UK Border Agency using the full range of powers at their disposal to work together on a national clampdown towards ridding our communities of this problem once and for all.”
But Shelter is not yet satisfied. Campbell Robb continued, “There is still much to be done. It’s ultimately local authorities that must do everything in their power to support people who are suffering by cracking down on the worst offenders in their area.”
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