Shelter has urged Boris Johnson to honour his pledge to deliver a Renters’ Reform Bill after new figures showed high levels of renters were too scared to ask for vital repairs.
The housing charity’s survey of 553 private renters found 39% have been forced to live in dangerous or unhealthy conditions because they fear complaining to their landlord will trigger a retaliatory eviction.
Almost half (46%) of those in this situation haven’t tried to resolve the problems because of this. Shelter also reports that 35% of private renters say their housing situation has made lockdowns harder to cope with; 21% had suffered with damp, mould, condensation, poor insulation or excess cold in the past month.
Bonnie Martin, 52, from Devon, lived with her two children in a two-bedroom property in constant disrepair for 12 years, where her son’s bedroom ceiling collapsed and the boiler exploded.
She left the property in March and says: “I was always anxious about asking for repairs, in case the landlord increased my rent – which he did one year. It wasn’t my responsibility to fix these faults and not being listened to felt very degrading – it made me feel worthless.”
The charity believes the Renters’ Reform Bill should include abolishing section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and creating a national landlord register to force landlords to prove properties meet essential safety standards.
Chief executive Polly Neate says the broken renting system is overdue serious reform.
She adds: “For years, renters have paid through the nose for neglected properties, left powerless and paralysed by the fear that complaining about basic repairs could see them out on the streets.
“The Bill offers us a once-in-a generation opportunity to transform private renting and create a fairer safer system for all renters.”
Shelter saw a 35% increase in private renters contacting its helpline and webchat services for advice about poor conditions between March 2020 and March 2021.