A new report from Shelter claims 61 per cent of private sector tenants have suffered a major problem such as damp, mould, leaking roof or windows - and that amateur, rather than intentionally rogue, landlords may be the biggest culprits.
The research, jointly authored with British Gas, says more than a quarter of landlords have no previous experience of letting out a property and 43 per cent do not regard letting as their major business.
The report claims that only one in 20 belongs to an accreditation scheme and Shelter is now calling for a mandatory national register, along the lines of the scheme advocated in the past year by the Labour Party.
The report, basing its findings on a survey of 4,500 private tenants, says “electrical hazards, animal infestations and gas leaks” are common. At least 360,000 people have had a gas leak or suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning. More than one in seven have lived with “electrical hazards” such as exposed wiring.
Leaking roofs or windows have affected one in four tenants. About 38 per cent of renters have had damp problems.
There are too many homes in Britain where people don’t feel safe or happy, says Bryan Halliday, director of sustainability at British Gas and “an increasing number of those are in the private rented sector.”
He says the most landlords take their responsibilities to their tenants very seriously but a small minority do not and it is often through ignorance rather than deliberate carelessness that they are unaware of their responsibilities.
Shelter claims that a third of privately rented homes fail the Government’s decent homes standard but “hundreds of thousands of people are evicted every year for complaining about poor conditions.”