Renters' health at risk

14 May 2013

One in nine renters says their health has been affected by their landlord’s failure to carry out repairs or deal with poor conditions in their home, new Shelter research has revealed.

The research conducted with over 4,000 private renters – the largest study of its kind – also found that 10 per cent of renting parents said this had affected their children’s health. 

Shelter is warning that a minority of rogue landlords who are failing to meet their responsibilities are putting renters and their families at risk.

The research found that:

  • Over a third (35%) of renting families have a problem with damp in their homes
  • Nearly one in five (17%) have a leaky roof or windows
  • One in eleven (9%) are living in a home with electrical hazards.

Figures from the English Housing Survey also show that more than a third (35%) of privately rented homes fail the government’s Decent Homes Standard.

Mandy and her 14-year-old son Alex live in Woking. For the last few years they rented a house which had extensive mould and damp problems. After repeatedly complaining to her landlord about it, it took over a year before work was carried out, during which time both Mandy and her son suffered health problems.

Mandy explains, ‘Alex had so many chest infections, headaches and nausea. He had to have a month off school at one point.

‘I have cystic fibrosis and living with damp problems meant I kept coming down with a lung infection that I’d never had before or since we moved out.

‘Our landlord didn’t seem to get that for us, the tenants, that property is our home, and a place we should be able to feel safe in, not in fear for our health.’

Figures obtained by Shelter under the Freedom of Information Act also show that almost one in six councils across England said that the behaviour or neglect of private landlords had required the involvement of health services.

Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: ‘We hear from parents up and down the country who are living with the terrible knowledge that damp or an electrical hazard could pose serious health risks to their child, but are powerless to do anything about it as their landlords ignore their complaints.

‘This has to stop. The nine million renters in this country deserve better.’

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