90% OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH OFFICERS ENCOUNTER ROGUE LANDLORDS HARASSING OR ILLEGALLY EVICTING TENANTS, NEW RESEARCH REVEALS

Government claims that current systems protect tenants have been thrown into disarray today by a new Shelter investigation which exposes the truth that rogue landlords still plague the private rented sector, making tenants’ lives a misery.


As part of its new investigation the charity is revealing the shocking treatment of tenants at the hands of rogue landlords and releases new research which shows evidence of the shamefull behaviour of a minority of landlords in the sector.


To show the reality of life for many private tenants, Shelter conducted a survey of environmental health officers and found over 90% who deal directly with private renters had encountered landlords harassing or illegally evicting tenants.

Other results from the survey, conducted through the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), paint a very worrying picture of the massive impact this small but dangerous group of landlords are having on private renters. Headline results include:

·         Almost 100% of environmental health officers say they have encountered landlords who persistently ignore their responsibilities

·         Half of EHOs believe the main reason for letting unsafe properties is to make as much money as possible.

·         Over 90% of environmental health officers said they had encountered cases of severe damp, mould, electrical or fire safety hazards in properties they investigated in the last year.

·         Over 60% of environmental health officers said that more than half of their cases involved people from vulnerable groups.

·         Over half of CIEH members believe environmental health problems in the private rented sector are set to get worse in the next year.

One officer cited the case of a property he visited that was in such poor condition the property was being rented out with absolutely no heating, hot water or electricity. Another officer witnessed a case where a mother and her young child lived with no kitchen facilities, no fire precautions and only a halogen heater to heat the house.

Campbell Robb, Chief Executive of Shelter said: “It is simply not acceptable that people are handing over their hard earned cash to live in houses that are run-down, squalid and in some cases even dangerous.”

“Our investigation shows just how ruthless a minority of rogue landlords can be. We know there are people operating in cities up and down the country like this and it’s clear that this is a national problem that urgently needs a national solution.

Other results from the survey include how over half (51%) of EHO’s questioned state that a lack of staff is the main barrier which prevents them from bringing more prosecutions.

Andrew Griffiths, Principal Policy Officer, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said: "This survey emphasises the importance for local authorities to have clear enforcement strategies in place to deal with the worst properties and the most vulnerable tenants. Strategies should not be based solely on complaints; they should ensure that rogue landlords do not evade their responsibilities to their tenants."

Mr Robb continued: “With more and more people set to become private tenants in the future, it is absolutely vital that we expose and drive out the worst offenders in the private rented sector.

“Government needs to wake up to the reality of the problem and work with councils to develop a tough programme of action to root out rogue landlords. The minority who do break the rules should be prosecuted and struck off immediately to prevent anyone else being exploited in the future.”

The survey is part of a national investigation launched by Shelter today which aims to uncover the true story behind England’s rogue landlords. The charity is highlighting cases they have uncovered which demonstrate the appalling conditions and financial scams some tenants experience. It hopes this will encourage other victims to come forward and is calling on members of the public to share their own experience of rogue landlords.

Mr Robb added: “We want to expose and evict as many rogue operators in the private rented sector as possible. We would urge anyone who has been affected by the practices of a rogue landlord to get in touch with us immediately so we can offer advice and ensure their experience becomes part of our investigation. Visit www.shelter.org.uk/evictroguelandlords today and help us evict the rogues.”

END

Notes to editors:

1.    Shelter, in partnership with the CIEH, undertook a web-based survey of CIEH members working in the housing sector. The survey ran from the 8th to 26th July and received a total of 184 responses.

2.    Questions to the survey were not compulsory and the survey received between 120 and 130 responses to the majority of questions. The minimum number of responses was 108 members.

3.    Half of CIEH members who responded to the survey were employed in roles that involve tenancy liaison. Of these, 90% had encountered examples of landlords engaging in the harassment or illegal eviction of tenants.

4.    For full details of the survey results, images and case studies, please contact Shelter’s press office.

Want more information? Contact us:

t: 020 7505 2162 (Office hours)
m: 07850 901 142 (out of hours)
e: press_office@shelter.org.uk