Is your home a hazard?

Laura Rodrigues, former Policy Researcher

We all like to feel safe in our homes. No one would expect to discover serious risks to their health when moving into a rented property, or to find that their new home could be unsafe for their children.

Yet, for one in six households across England, these threats aren’t just a possibility – they’re a reality.

Half a million children in unsafe homes

Our new research, A Nation of Renters, found that 740,000 households are living in privately rented homes containing Category 1 hazards – the most serious of problems, from severe damp to risk of explosion. With over a million families raising children in privately rented properties in England, more than half a million children can’t feel safe in their home.

There are almost three times as many dangerous properties in the private rented sector than in social housing, exposing families to a host of dangers. To add insult to injury, these households are paying an average of £157 per week in rent to private landlords for their hazardous homes. This equates to a total of £5.6bn each year going into the pockets of landlords who are putting their tenants at risk.

Action on hazardous homes

We’re glad that the Government has pledged to tackle England’s housing crisis and are calling on them to introduce renter refunds so that rogue landlords can’t continue to collect rent on dangerous properties. We also believe that national landlord registration could help to tackle the worst offenders and prevent them from putting families at risk.

We’re campaigning for improvements to the rights of private renters through our settled and safe campaign – but changes to the law might take some time. In the meantime, you can take action if your home is a hazard:

  • If your privately rented home is damp, dangerous or needs urgent repairs, contact your landlord and explain the problem and what you would like them to do to fix it. They should get in touch and tell you what they will do to make sure your home is safe.
  • If your landlord doesn’t respond or refuses to take action, contact your council and ask the environmental health team to inspect your home. If they agree that it is hazardous they can issue a notice telling your landlord what needs to be done and take action if they don’t comply.
  • Many private landlords are members of trade bodies that can support them to improve their practice. Check if your landlord is a member of one and, if they are, write to that trade body explaining the problem. They can contact the landlord and explain their responsibilities – and if the landlord still won’t ensure your home is safe, might be able to take further action, like removing their accreditation.
  • If you’ve tried all of this and are still concerned for your health and safety at home, help us to change the law by sharing your story on our private renting blog.

Get advice

If your home is hazardous and you need further advice, please visit our online advice pages, call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 (9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday) or visit your local Citizens Advice.

Visit our website to find out more about our campaign for a settled and safe future for England’s private renters.

 

6 comments

  1. Rent Rebel

    The point made here about tenants not taking legal action is very pertinent. In the absence of funds to do this with, can I pls suggest that private tenants follow @AnthonyGoldLaw on Twitter for some especially helpful videos – which discuss repairing obligations among them. (I don’t work for them – but I do seek to empower tenants)

    Also, the point made here about retaliatory eviction must be noted! If the property is in severe disrepair, just go straight to the council and ask them to serve any notice – on the landlord – as they deem appropriate. Only with such a notice from the council can eviction be prevented (for 6 months from service of).

    @Rent Rebel

  2. Paul

    Our Tory government contains individuals who are heavily investing in being private landlords, mostly using ‘company’ umbrellas to hide away from public scrutiny. They are also attacking Social Housing with a view to eliminating it entirely (Right to Buy + refusing new investment in it) It is therefore unrealistic to expect them to introduce legislation to curb their own profits and worst excesses, when they are making huge amounts of personal money from their activities. They are currently clearing London of poor people (50,000 families and rising – this is a true figure) so that they can make even more money from the vacated homes. Your descendents will suffer.
    These practices were first highlighted by the activities of Peter Rachman – absolutely NOTHING has changed since then. Look it up, and be ashamed that it hasn’t been stopped. By us, the voters.

  3. Trevor

    The article is dangerous. At bureau level one of the first pieces of advice that would be given to a client in such circumstances would be to caution them that a private landlord, in the event of a client following the procedures noted, may well be to give notice. This eventuality is not even mentioned.

  4. Simon Harris

    It is telling that the one thing we are not advising tenants to do is seek legal advice and take action themselves. I suspect the reason is that most tenants cannot afford to do this since most disrepair cases were taken out of scope of legal aid. perhaps we might argue that it should be brought back into scope to deal with just these issues. Rights are all well and good but pretty useless if you can’t enforce them.

  5. ann

    I disagree with the comment “Many private landlords are members of trade bodies that can support them to improve their practice.” letting agents may belong to a trade body but many landlords have individual properties and do not belong to anything.

    1. Ant

      I’m sorry but your talking rubbish. So what if they are part of a certain organisation, it don’t stop them from ripping off innocent people

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