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.

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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.”

Section 21

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.

polly shelter

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.

Read more about the Renters Reform Bill.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Retaliatory evictions? There have been no evictions for a year now. Tenants should not have to live in poor conditions but if the LL won’t fix major faults they should move.

    What about all the good LLs who have suffered over the last 12-18 months with non-paying tenants who chose not to pay because they knew they could not get evicted?

    We all want a PRS that works for tenants and LLs but until Shelter gives up on its ‘them & us’ rhetoric I can’t see anything improving. Good LLs are leaving the sector and the slack will be taken up by rogue LLs flying under the radar who can always find tenants to rent their substandard properties because of the cheap rent. Shelter should work with LLs & tenants to pressurise the Govt to make decent housing affordable instead of constantly blaming the LL for the state of the PRS.

  2. I’d be very interested to see the survey questions.
    You could phrase a question like this:

    “Some tenants in the PRS have been evicted because they complained about a repair that needed doing.
    Would you be afraid of complaining in case your landlord evicted you? (scale of 1-10)”

    Or you could phrase it like this:

    “Some tenants in the PRS have had their complaints about repair attended to quickly.
    Are you happy to report a repair to your landlord, that needs doing? (scale of 1-10)”

    “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.”

    I bought a house with a bedroom ceiling that had collapsed with most of it being on the bedroom floor. My local council did not classify the property as ‘uninhabitable’ and said that the person could sleep in another room! Did the boiler explode? I find that hard to believe. If it was a gas boiler it would have probably brought most of the house down.

    “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 tenant had been living there for 12 years so a rent rise in just one year isn’t something to be complaining about! And why anyone would live in an unsatisfactory property is a mystery to me, unless the rent is lower than most in the area.

    “Chief executive Polly Neate says the broken renting system is overdue serious reform.”

    It certainly is. Make it easier for landlords to evict tenants who don’t pay their rent, cause problems or damage the property, and have housing benefit/UCHE paid direct and in full to the landlord.

    “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.”

    That would suggest that outside of lockdown there were fewer complaints. During lockdown people stayed at home more. If tenants are staying at home and complaints go up that suggests that there’s something those tenants are doing to make the conditions in the house ‘poor’.

  3. It is misleading to call section 21 “no fault” eviction. The correct phrase should be “Too many faults” eviction.

    Sometimes, the tenant is so bad that if you include all the grounds for section 8, it would not be enough.

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