Complaints about landlords 'on the up'

by Sarah Ashcroft

Complaints about property owners in England have increased by more than a quarter in the last few years, research carried out by homeless charity Shelter has revealed.

Responses from 310 local authorities across the country, which were acquired through freedom of information requests, noted grievances rose by 27 per cent between 2008/9 and 2011/12 - with figures highlighting a surge from 67,283 to 85,639.

Researchers found 62 per cent of complaints during the last 12 months related to "serious and life-threatening hazards", including dangerous electrics and gas, and severe damp.

In addition, the charity found the number of successful prosecutions against private landlords increased by 77 per cent between 2010/11 and 2011/12.

Shelter said that the findings revealed that the heath services had to be involved in 781 cases during the last year as a direct result of the behaviour of negligent property owners.

The study comes as part of the organisation's Evict Rogue Landlords campaign, which encourages individuals to contact their local authority to deal with any issue that they feel needs addressing and has been ignored by a proprietor.

Commenting on the findings, Shelter's chief executive Campbell Robb said that although there has been a "significant increase" in the number of complaints being made, there is likely to be many more out there that have not been reported.

He added: "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."

"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."

Meanwhile, Chris Norris of the National Landlords Association told BBC News that councils must concentrate on using their existing power to target criminals who are exploiting individuals relying on the rental sector.

Landlords, who are unaware of their legal obligations, can find out what they need to do to make their rental property safe for dwelling and how they must comply with health and safety legislation with Lawpack's Residential Lettings Guide.

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Published on: October 9, 2012

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