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Huge jump in complaints about landlords – Shelter

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Complaints about landlords have leapt in the last three years, according to research by Shelter.

The charity surveyed each local authority in England about complaint rates, and found that the number of complaints had increased by 27% since 2009.

Across the country, 85,000 complaints have been made about landlords in the last 12 months.

Shelter classified 62% of complaints as serious, which includes problems such as dangerous gas and electrics and severe damp. Authorities across England identified 1,449 rogue private landlords who had continually received complaints in the past year.

The charity said that neglectful landlords had caused health services to be used in 781 cases, yet only 457 successful prosecutions were made against landlords in 2011.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said that the situation could be even worse, with a number of councils reluctant to record tenant complaints at all.

“Despite the significant increase in complaints, we believe that the number of rogue landlords is still underestimated – some local authorities don’t keep records of complaints and tenants often hold back from complaining out of fear of the consequences or because they don’t believe their voices will be heard, even though such a high proportion of complaints are about life-threatening issues.

“There could be thousands more victims of these operators, trapped in homes that cause misery and, in some cases, put lives at risk.”

“It’s ultimately local authorities that must do everything in their power to support people who are suffering by cracking down on the worst offenders in their area.”

Chris Norris, head of policy at the National Landlords Association, told Mortgage Solutions that it supported a crackdown on rogue landlords.

“The NLA supports Shelter’s call for more to be done to remove criminals operating in the private rented sector.

“Local authorities must concentrate on using their existing powers to target the criminals who exploit those who rely on the private-rented sector for their homes.

“It is positive that more tenants are reporting criminal operators and must continue to do so if we are to eliminate the problems they create.

“Tenants can help force criminals out of the market by seeking out professional landlords who demonstrate their commitment to providing good quality accommodation.”

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