Safe and decent homes

Damp. Mould. Dangerous electrics. Would you raise your family in these conditions?

Unfortunately, many private renters don't have a choice. One third of privately rented homes fail to meet the Decent Homes Standard, leaving thousands of renters in appalling and sometimes dangerous properties.

1 in 10 renters told us their health has been affected because their landlord had not dealt with repairs and poor conditions in their home in the last year.

Families now make up nearly a third of renting households, and our research shows that poor housing conditions have a particularly negative impact on the health and wellbeing of children.

More than 1.3 million families now rent privately, and our research shows that poor housing conditions have a particularly negative impact on children.

Retaliatory evictions

When private renters have problems with disrepair or bad housing conditions, they can find it difficult to get them fixed.

At the moment, it's very easy for landlords to legally evict renters who complain about poor conditions. When renters reach the end of their fixed term contract, landlords don't have to give a reason why they are evicting someone and only have to give a two month notice period.

More than 200,000 people have faced eviction in the last year because they asked their private landlord to fix a problem in their home. And in the last year, one in eight renters have not asked for repairs to be carried out in their homes, nor challenged a rent increase, because they fear eviction.

Shelter's response

The long-term solution is to build more genuinely affordable homes.

Until that happens, we must ensure that renters live in safe and decent conditions. In December 2014, Shelter published a report setting out how conditions can be improved for England's 9 million renters.

The Government must:

  • Change the law to protect renters from retaliatory evictions
  • Improve the evictions process, making landlords and renters more aware of their rights and responsibilities
  • Place a legal duty on local councils to provide a tenancy relations service, which can mediate between landlords and renters when problems arise
  • Ensure legal aid is available for renters who want to take legal action against landlords when there is an issue of disrepair
  • Amend the Landlord and Tenant Act (1985) to ensure all homes are fit for human habitation

Making sure landlords know their responsibilities

  • Introduce a national register of landlords. This would require landlords to undergo basic training on their rights and responsibilities. National registration would also provide local councils with basic information on private rented homes, and allow them to carry out their work more effectively.
  • Banks and building societies should encourage landlords to carry out an assessment of the conditions of any homes purchased with a buy-to-let mortgage.
  • Make sure local councils have the powers to improve private renting Councils should be able to require that landlords license properties in areas where there is a high demand for homes, or conditions are particularly poor. The government should also provide more guidance and support to councils to allow them to introduce these schemes.
  • Local councils should consider setting up social lettings agencies, which can help improve conditions and make renting more affordable for renters.

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