Minister puts spotlight on private landlords

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The Independent Online

Rogue landlords will be under scrutiny in an independent review of the private rental sector to be launched this week.

Government research shows that the sector has boomed by nearly a third in the past six years, and the profile of tenants has changed. Many young professionals now spend far longer in rented accommodation because of soaring property prices and a shortage of affordable homes to buy. The proportion of households in the private rental sector occupied by people under 30 has grown to 43 per cent, compared with 33 per cent in 2001. Many low-income families rent privately while waiting for a council house, but often have to cope with poor conditions and little security of tenure.

With nearly 2.5 million homes in England being rented from over half a million private landlords, housing minister Yvette Cooper has commissioned an independent review to look at the problems being faced by tenants and landlords alike.

A report from the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) last year found that one in five tenants were dissatisfied with the quality of repairs carried out by their landlord but feared retaliatory action if they complained.

"Tenants have now got more rights to get repairs done – but many are afraid to use them in case they get kicked out," a CAB spokesperson said.

The review will look at how the rise in the number of buy-to-let investors and student tenants has changed the face of the private rental sector, as well as assessing the quality of homes to rent and who the main users of the sector are.

Unscrupulous letting agencies will also come under the spotlight, after a recent review by the National Landlords Association highlighted poor practice.