Charity slams poor state of private rented housing in Devon and Cornwall
Almost half of rented homes in the South West are damp, cold, dangerous or in a bad state of repair, a report by the charity Shelter has claimed.
Shelter, which commissioned NatCen to research the scale of problems, said 45% of people in private rented accommodation were in “bad housing”.
It said thousands of people were living at the mercy of rogue landlords who were failing to maintain their properties and putting families at risk.
The charity said the extent of the problem was also revealed by the number of complaints made about private landlords to local authorities – 11,800 in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset in the last four years.
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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.”
The percentage of households living in privately rented homes in the region has shot up by more than half over the last decade, while the proportion of families with dependent children has increased by 72% in same period.
Shelter said the majority of landlords treated their tenants fairly but the highly pressurised market had allowed rogue landlords to flourish, with many families having little choice over the properties they live in.
It classed bad housing as those which do not meet the Government’s “decent homes standard” – wind and weather tight, warm, and with modern facilities – or were overcrowded.
A recent Shelter survey also found that one-in-eight people renting in the South West said their health had been affected by a rogue landlord.
In response to the findings, Shelter has launched a campaign calling on local councils to do all they can to stamp out rogue landlords and improve standards in the private rental market.
Many councils have already signed up to the “Evict Rogue Landlords” campaign and were praised by Shelter for “doing important work to tackle these issues”.
Mr Robb added: “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.”