The phrase, whose origin is uncertain, is often used to describe the persuasive power of numbers; statistics that are often used to bolster weak arguments.
According to the views of the National Landlords’ Association (NLA) a recent report from The National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux, a national charity which helps people to resolve their problems, is just such a case in point.
Others have refuted the extent of the problems depicted in the report, including the Residential Landlord’s Association (RLA) and the Housing Minister Brandon Lewis.
The basic tenor of the report, “A Nation of Renters”, is that private landlords are providing a sub-standard service while “pocketing £5.6bn in rent on unsafe housing”.
The charity claims that 16 per cent of privately rented housing is unsafe compared with 6 per cent in the social rented market. The Bureaux further claims that £1.3bn in housing benefit is going to rogue landlords.
The charity says 740,000 households in England are living in privately rented homes that presented a severe threat to their health, including 510,000 families with children, that £1.3bn of housing benefit is being spent on dangerous homes and that rogue landlords are raking in £5.6billion a year for unsafe homes that fail to meet legal standards.
“A Nation of Renters: How England moved from secure family homes towards rundown rentals” show how “renting in England has changed dramatically in the past few decades with the number of households living in the private rental sector doubling in the last ten years.”
The report’s main findings:
- 16 per cent of privately rented homes are physically unsafe – far higher than the 6 per cent in the social rented market.
- 8 per cent of privately rented homes have serious damp.
- 10 per cent pose a risk of a dangerous fall.
- 6 per cent are excessively cold.
- Private renters living in homes with a category 1 hazard pay an average of £157 per week on rent.
The report which CAB says forms part of their “Settled and Safe Campaign” for better protections for private renters recommends that:
- Tenants should be entitled to rent refunds where properties are dangerous or not fit to live in.
- A national landlord register should be set up. “This could help ensure landlords operating illegally cannot move to different areas to avoid legal action.”
- Councils should also consider setting up local licensing. “This will help to ensure landlords are providing the quality of housing and service the area needs and help to ensure tenants know what they can expect from a good landlord.”
Is it perhaps inevitable that as private landlords take on the mantle of housing more tenants and families which would previously have been housed in the social housing sector, before council housing declined to such an extent, that more complaints will arise?
Is it also conceivable that councils are to some extent “turning a blind eye” to situations where rogue landlords should be prevented from letting low standard housing, simply because the council has nowhere else to house the affected tenants?
Commenting on the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) report, Richard Lambert, Chief Executive Officer at the National Landlords Association said:
“We recognise that bad practice exists in private housing, that it can have a devastating effect on those it affects, and that it needs to be stamped out. But this report uses loose definitions to compound a perception that private housing is insecure and unsuitable across the board, and it ignores the weight of evidence to the contrary.
“The English Housing Survey finds that the average tenancy now lasts just shy of 4 years, and that only 7% of tenancies are ended by landlords. Our own research* shows that 86 per cent of families consider their properties as their ‘home’ and that 62 per cent do not see renting as a barrier to family life. Furthermore just 0.5 per cent of families who rent privately say they’ve had to move because their landlord increased their rent.
“What this shows is that private housing is far from the CAB’s assertion of a market that is ‘failing systematically to deliver what consumers want’. Those who suffer at the hands of the criminal and negligent minority do so because of widespread failure of local councils to commit resources to enforcing the laws that already exist against poor landlords and criminal standards, and because of the failure of successive governments to incentivise the building of much needed homes that would relieve the pressure on the whole housing market.”
*The NLA’s Tenant Index (972 respondents)
— LandlordZONE® (@LandlordZONE) June 2, 2015