125,000 tenants ‘abused’ by private landlords – charity

© Dylan Martinez
Thousands of dissatisfied private renters in Britain have complained of their landlords abusing, assaulting, threatening and harassing them, research by Shelter has revealed.

In the past year, housing charity Shelter has received over 17,000 helpline calls from tenants reporting “chaotic” problems with their landlords.

Some of the disgruntled occupants claimed property-owners entered their homes without permission, cut off utilities and burned their possessions over disputes about deposits.

Shelter has warned that a small minority of rogue landlords are making life “unbearable” for private tenants.

The charity’s survey of nearly 3,800 adults found that 60 of those questioned claimed their landlord had been abusive towards them or another tenant in the past year.

Shelter applied its findings to the English Housing Survey and Census data to estimate that over 125,000 people had experienced abusive behavior in the last year.

‘Awful experiences’ 

In a statement, Shelter’s helpline advisor Mark Cook said the charity regularly speaks to tenants who are “desperate” to be saved from abusive rouge landlords.

Every day at Shelter we speak to people desperate for help because their lives are being made unbearable by a rogue landlord.

Some of their experiences are truly awful – from renters who have been illegally evicted and had their belongings burned, to those who’ve had utilities cut off because their landlord wants to intimidate them.

No one should have to put up with a landlord who breaks the law and it’s so important to know your rights as a renter.”

Shelter’s director of services Alison Mohammed is disturbed by the “havoc” rogue landlords are causing their tenants, she told the Express and Star on Wednesday.

It’s shocking that a small minority of rogue landlords who are exploiting the housing crisis can cause so much havoc and misery in the lives of renters,” she said.

Mohammed said the only way of addressing the issue is by making renting “fit for purpose” for all the families seeking a safe and stable home.

‘One day he became really aggressive’ 

Shelter cited a case of one man who moved into a flat in London, discovered issues with the property and eventually had stones thrown at him by his landlord.

There was damp in the bedroom – black walls basically. There was a leaking roof which went on for months, and we had no gas safety certificate,” the tenant said.

After moving in, he recalled reporting 18 problems with the property, but his landlord “refused to fix them” and started entering the flat without permission.

One day he became really aggressive and hurled some stones at me,” the tenant added.

‘Govt will tackle rogue landlords’

Commenting on the issue, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said the government has introduced a “range of powers” to fight rouge landlords.

The government has introduced a range of powers to tackle rogue landlords, backed by £6.7 million [US$10.2 million] of government funding, which has resulted in nearly 40,000 property inspections and over 3,000 landlords facing further enforcement action or prosecution,” he said in a statement.

We have made significant progress but we are determined to go even further. We are cracking down on those who rent out dangerous, dirty and overcrowded properties,” he added.

According to Shelter, nine million people in England are now renting privately and more than a third of them are families with children.

Since 2001, the amount of homes rented privately has risen by 69 percent as more families and young professionals have been priced out of the housing market.