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Renters face council ‘postcode lottery’ on hazardous housing

Renters face council ‘postcode lottery’ on hazardous housing
Matt Browning
Written By:
Matt Browning

Just a third of complaints from renters about hazardous properties led to an inspection from the council, a report reveals.

Even when an inspection was made, only 7% of them between 2021 and 2023 had an Improvement Notice served, according to National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) data.

An Improvement Notice is serviced when a landlord has to carry out work on a property or there will be a risk to the health and safety of the tenant.

The action by local authorities to adhere to the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) was also heavily dependent on where the complaints were made.

This ‘postcode lottery’ on housing safety is evident in that half of the HHSRS checks were carried out by just 20 councils in the UK, while 16% were unable to even provide any data following the NRLA’s request.

There were 23 local authorities who served no Improvement Notices throughout the two-year period.

Indeed, over a third (37%) were unable to provide any housing tenure-specific data – the capacity a property is owned – for complaints made by tenants.

As the progress of the Renters Reform Bill hangs in the balance ahead of the general election, the NRLA has called for the review of the HHSRS to be published.

As well as that, due to the dwindling numbers of inspections on hazardous properties and rogue landlords, it wants more powers to be given to councils.

‘Paints a worrying picture’

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, said: “No renters should ever have to put up with unsafe housing. Whilst ultimately it is landlords who are responsible for the quality of the housing they provide, tenants must have confidence in councils’ ability to act when renters require assistance.

“Our research paints a worrying picture of councils under strain struggling to respond as they should to tenant complaints. In addition, many do not have the data needed to track enforcement activity properly.”

Beadle added: “Calls for new laws to tackle rogue and criminal landlords are distracting from the fact that councils routinely fail to make the best use of the powers available to them. The focus must be on swift, consistent enforcement.

“This is in the interest of households and responsible landlords.”