Thursday, 18 October 2012

Investigation sees dramatic rise in complaints about landlords

A new investigation by Shelter today reveals how complaints about landlords have risen dramatically in the past few years. 

The housing and homelessness charity contacted every local authority in England to build a picture of the scale of the problem with rogue landlords and what is being done to tackle it. Shockingly, the total number of complaints made to local authorities has increased by 27% in the last three years, with over 85,000 complaints made in total over the past year alone.

Even more worryingly, 62% of complaints were related to serious and life-threatening hazards such as dangerous gas and electrics and severe damp. In the last year health services had to be involved in 781 cases due to the behaviour or neglect of private landlords.

When asked about rogue landlords in their area, local authorities identified 1,449 private landlords who have given them continued cause for concern in the last year.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, 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 is about life-threatening issues.

“Every day at Shelter we see the devastating impact these landlords have on people’s health and wellbeing. There could be thousands more victims of these operators, trapped in homes that cause misery and, in some cases, put lives at risk.”

Shelter’s investigation also showed that the number of successful prosecutions made against private landlords has gone up by 77% in the last year. Although the rise in prosecutions is a positive signal of change, only 487 successful prosecutions were carried out last year, mostly driven by a handful of local authorities such as Newham, Leeds, Salford and Manchester that are leading the fight against rogue landlords.

Campbell Robb continued:

“At Shelter we’ve been campaigning for the last two years to urge government and councils to crack down on the small but highly dangerous minority of landlords who make people’s lives a misery. While there have been considerable successes, such as the increase in prosecutions and the government’s best practice guidelines to help local authorities deal with rogue landlords, 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.”

As part of the Evict Rogue Landlords campaign Shelter has launched ‘Wrong Move’, a spoof video that presents rogue landlords’ properties on the market and encourages people to visit Shelter’s website and email their local council to stamp out rogue landlords in their area.  

Radio DJ and presenter Lauren Laverne, who lent her voice for ‘Wrong Move’, said:

“Working with Shelter I’ve heard of too many rogue landlords that are simply getting away with ignoring their responsibilities. Living in a house with serious issues such as gas leaks or severe damp can pose a threat not only to someone’s wellbeing, but also to their lives. Stamping out rogue landlords must become an urgent priority for us all.”

To watch the ‘Wrong Move’ video, email your local council, get advice, or to find out more about rogue landlords who may be operating in your area, visit Shelter’s Rogue Landlord page at