Statistics show more people are suffering negligence, abuse and poor conditions of living in rented properties across England
A new study has shown that more than one million renters in England have dealt with law-breaking, abusive and nightmarish landlords, making up one in eight of all those privately renting in the country.
The research, conducted by Shelter and YouGov, found that 200,000 had reported abuse, threats and harassment at the hands of a landlord, with over 110,000 claiming they had been treated unfairly because of their nationality, race, gender or sexuality.
Six-hundred thousand renters also claimed their landlord had entered their home without permission or any notice, with 64,000 who reported their utilities had been cut off without their consent.
Housing charity Shelter have asserted that landlords across England have been committing civil and criminal offences with “shocking behaviour”.
Jenny Pennington, research officer at Shelter, told Dazed: “These huge numbers show how much a minority of rogue landlords breaking the law affects so many people. It’s worrying how prevalent some of these issues are, and how common.”
“When I lived with five other girls, my landlord would continually let himself into our flat and look in our rooms without notice or any real reason, despite us pleading with him not to. One time he caught me while I was getting dressed,” Elle, 25, told Dazed. “He would make us uncomfortable asking about whether we had boyfriends and if we let them into the house. Then we finally got out of there and he took two months to give us our deposit back.”
Jessie, 24, also told Dazed: “My landlord rang me up asking about money that was nothing to do with me, asking me to pay him for stuff another previous flatmate owed immediately. He was threatening to evict me. I never met him in person, but would just get these angry calls out of the blue about stuff that wasn’t within my control.”
She added: “A former flatmate made my life hell – she kept trying to come around again after moving out, and I asked the landlord so many times if the locks could be changed because I felt unsafe. I ended up having to do it myself.”
Pennington said that it’s a murky area to navigate, but renters have to make themselves vigilant. “It’s an area of law that’s complicated, because it’s bound to criminal as well as civil law,” she said. “The best thing people can do is make sure they have a strong understanding of their rights so they know what to expect of their landlords.
“I think there are a lot of landlords just starting out, with maybe just one or two properties. It can mean they aren’t familiar with the law. Sometimes there are real rogue landlords trying to cut corners, and sometimes people just don’t know what their rights or responsibilities are. People need to know when to take action and what to expect, so they have a mutually positive relationship with their landlord.”
“We also know a lot of people are taking places to live because there’s a real lack of affordable rented housing across every region. Some people are in situations they’d rather not be in because it’s so difficult to find somewhere affordable. They shouldn’t have to compromise.”
You can get advice and support from Shelter 365 days a year at 0808 800 4444.