200,000 face 'revenge evictions' by landlords
New campaign calls for changes to help growing numbers of tenants stay safely in their homes
Alex Johnson has been part of The Independent's online team since 2007. He has been writing about microarchitecture on his internationally-acclaimed Shedworking blog since 2006 and is the author of Shedworking: The Alternative Workplace Revolution. His latest book is Bookshelf, published by Thames & Hudson.
Wednesday 12 March 2014
Thousands of renters are suffering ‘revenge evictions’ for speaking up about the bad conditions in which they live, says a new report
Housing charity Shelter has launched its 9 Million Renters campaign to highlight the problems renters face. Its figures show over the last 12 months more than 200,000 people have faced eviction because they asked their landlord to fix a problem in their home.
The study also revealed that eight per cent avoided asking their landlord to repair a problem or improve conditions in case they were evicted.
It comes at a time when more than 40 per cent of renters are enduring problems with mould, says the report, with 25 per cent living with a leaking roof or windows, and a worrying 16 per cent complaining of electrical hazards in their home.
Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: "No-one should lose their home for asking their landlord to fix a problem, yet these shocking findings uncover the true scale of unfair evictions taking place across the country."
Landlords can use a 'section 21 notice' to evict renters without giving a reason or allowing the tenants any right to challenge their eviction. Shelter is calling on the government to put restrictions in place to prevent landlords evicting renters who complain.
Matt Hutchinson, director of flat and house share website, SpareRoom.co.uk, said: "In some parts of the UK we're seeing as many as 12 people compete for every room advertised.
"With demand far outstripping supply in the private rented sector, tenants can be left feeling utterly powerless to complain about living standards - because they know they're easily replaced. Everybody has the right to expect a decent standard of accommodation, whether they own, rent or share their homes. It's unacceptable to have people living in poor conditions simply because they're afraid to complain for fear of eviction.
"Right now, there's very little legislation in the rental market that protects the interests of either tenants or landlords. We agree with Shelter that regulatory intervention is urgently needed but, it's crucial this doesn't make it harder for good landlords to operate, or dissuade new landlords from creating desperately-needed supply."
Meanwhile, a survey of more than 2,000 tenants by online tenant community The Tenants’ Voice, found that more than 70 per cent have paid for repairs to a rental property out of their own pockets rather than report the problem to their landlords.
Around six in 10 added that the landlord had either been difficult or flatly refused to sort the problem out. Indeed, almost two thirds prefer to talk to the letting agent they found the property through, rather than speaking directly to the landlord.
A third of private rented homes fail to meet the Government’s Decent Homes Standard, compared to 15 per cent in the social rented sector and 20 per cent of owner occupied homes.
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