CLAIMS IN a shock report on housing in Croydon that many tenants do not approach the council for assistance due to fear of reprisals from their landlord are backed up by a Shelter report.
The study also suggested that many more renters are too scared of losing their home to complain at all. One in 12 renters (eight pc) say they have avoided asking their landlord to repair a problem or improve conditions in the last year because they were scared of eviction.
A separate investigation by Shelter uncovered shocking cases of ‘revenge evictions’ across the country, including:
• A family in Norfolk handed an eviction notice three weeks after reporting damp and mould to their landlord;
• A couple in Brighton who complained about a broken thermostat, mould and damp that was affecting their health, and were served an eviction notice just a week later;
• A family from Lancashire evicted after complaining about a leaking roof, who were told by their landlord that it “wasn’t worth his while” to fix the problem.
The charity is launching an online petition at www.shelter.org.uk/9millionrenters, campaigning for the government to protect renters from unfair ‘revenge evictions’.
Housing minister Kris Hopkins is currently reviewing whether to change the law to tackle the problem.
Official figures show that the number of private renting households in England rose to almost four million – an increase of 77pc in a decade – as a severe shortage of affordable homes pushes home ownership further out of reach.
The YouGov study also uncovered the shocking scale of bad conditions in privately rented homes. More than two fifths (41pc) of renters have experienced mould in their homes in the past year, while a quarter (25pc) have lived with a leaking roof or windows, and 16pc have had electrical hazards.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “No-one should lose their home for asking their landlord to fix a problem, yet these shocking findings uncover the true scale of unfair evictions taking place across the country.
“As homeownership drifts further out of reach, more of us are facing the prospect of settling down and bringing up a family in a rented home.
“But with private renters facing the worst housing conditions in the country – and the chance of eviction if they complain – generation rent is getting a raw deal. “The government must protect England’s nine million renters from unfair evictions.
“We’re calling on people across the country to sign our petition and send the government a message that England’s nine million renters deserve better, now.”
The research was commissioned by Shelter and British Gas as part of their partnership to improve the conditions of privately rented homes.
Advice for tenants from Shelter:
• If you have problems with conditions in your home, it is important you report these to your landlord right away
• If you would rather leave your property than put up with poor conditions, make sure you end your tenancy properly and keep in mind the costs of moving. You will also have to pay the rent for any fixed term agreed.
• If your landlord tries to evict you evict you rather than do the work, they may be guilty of illegal eviction or harassment – these are serious criminal offences.
• Visit shelter.org.uk or call the free helpline on 0808 800 4444 to find out how you can take action. You may be able to claim compensation, even after you have moved out