South West renters living in cold, damp and dangerous homes
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Health and also in Housing, Local Government
dampImage: Damp via Shutterstock
Almost half of those renting in South West England are living in bad housing, new research has revealed.
Housing charity Shelter discovered that 45% of people in the region are paying to live in accommodation that is damp, cold, dangerous or in a bad state of repair.
According to the charity, thousands in the South West are living at the mercy of rogue landlords who are failing to maintain their properties and putting renters and their children at risk.
Councils in the region have received 27,000 complaints about landlords in the last four years.
In response to the findings, Shelter has launched its 'Evict Rogue Landlords' campaign, which calls on local authorities to do all they can to stamp out rogue landlords in their area.
The percentage of households living in privately rented homes in the South West has soared by more than half over the last 10 years, while the proportion of families with dependent children has increased by 72% in same period.
Shelter says that whilst the majority of landlords treat their tenants fairly, the highly pressurised market has allowed rogue landlords to flourish in the region, with many families having little choice over the properties they live in.
The charity has seen distressing cases of families living in homes with dangerous levels of damp, mould and disrepair. A recent Shelter survey found that 1 in 8 renters in the South West say their health has been affected by rogue landlords failing to carry out repairs.
Julie Boyd and her family endured terrible conditions in a rented three-bedroom property and were eventually evicted by their landlord when they complained.
“Our landlord was the worst we've ever come across. There was terrible mould and damp all over the house and the heating didn't work, but the landlord refused to do anything about. It made us ill and ruined all our possessions - we don’t have any photographs left of our children when they were young. When we tried to fight for our rights, the landlord evicted us.
“People can’t live at the mercy of irresponsible landlords who make renters' lives miserable. That is no way for any family to live and local councils should do everything in their power to drive these landlords out of business.”
Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said: “Families should never be forced to live in a place where their health and well-being is at risk, so the fact that nearly half of those renting privately in the South West are living in bad housing is shocking.
“Across the region, we hear from parents trapped in unsafe properties owned by landlords refusing to carry out their responsibilities, posing serious health risks to themselves and their children.
“There is some excellent work being done by some local councils in the region but we’re calling on those that have yet to sign up to our campaign to join us and protect renting families. We’re also calling on those that have signed up to deliver on their promise. This is the only way to send the message that poor conditions and practices won’t be tolerated and to ensure that rogue landlords are stamped out for good.”
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