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One in five tenants fall victim to rogue landlords

There are a significant amount of private landlords who fail to keep rental properties in a safe condition for their tenants, with one in five tenants in Britain describing their existing renting conditions as a “nightmare”, according to new research.

The study by Help-Link.co.uk found that there are around 740,000 rented homes in Britain in poor condition, presenting a “severe threat to tenants’ health”, including category 1 hazards such as severe damp, rat infestations and even risk of explosion.

Help-Link’s landlord study discovered that 41% of tenants are currently living in properties suffering from damp, while around a quarter will be without functional heating this winter.

Other issues within Britain’s homes include building faults (33%), water leaks (30%), damaged windows (20%), unwanted pests (12%) and even broken fire alarms (10%).

After raising issues with their landlords, tenants found that it took, on average, seven-and-half-weeks for landlords to fix problems.

What’s more, the study revealed that 37% of tenants do not receive their full deposit back, with the average tenant losing around £355 at the end of their agreement.

More than a quarter of those who have lost their deposit believe this is due to fair wear and tear, which they argue is something landlords should expect to happen when they rent out a house.

Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, said: “The colder months present a series of significant risks to rental properties, particularly relating to heating systems.

“One of the common complaints we have found in the past is that some tenants make it difficult for landlords to visit the property.

“However, regular inspections are imperative to check pipes for breaks, leaks, and blockages, bleed radiators and arrange routine boiler checks. Blocked or leaking pipes can freeze during the cold months, then expand and burst.”

But as many of you will know, not all tenants are innocent victims of rogue landlords.

It is not uncommon for landlords to suffer damage to their property or have disputes over unpaid rent.

Shamplina added: “Tenants are often found to withhold rent for many different reasons. However, withholding rent is often the start of the breakdown between landlords and tenants.

“We regularly come across cases where tenants have fallen on hard times and rather than communicate with their landlord for fear of losing their home, they instead choose to avoid paying the rent until the landlord reaches breaking point and the end result is eviction.”

This year, between January and June 2016, GOV.UK reported there were 21,435 county court bailiff evictions. As the map below illustrates, the majority of evictions occur in the south of England.

Between April and June 2016, there were just five local authorities in the UK with no landlord repossessions by county court bailiffs (Maldon, Ribble Valley, North Kesteven, West Somerset and City of London).

Of the 20 boroughs that had the highest number of evictions, London local authorities accounted for 17. The highest proportion of landlord repossessions was in Enfield, at 298 per 100,000 households. 

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