Poor conditions for nearly half of renters in South West

16 October 2013

Baby with damp

45 per cent of people renting in the South West are living in homes that are damp, cold, overcrowded or in a bad state of repair, a Shelter study reveals today.

The independent NatCen research commissioned by Shelter shows a large-scale problem for the region, with a sharp increase in the number of people renting privately over the last decade. In just the last four years, local councils in the region have received 27,000 complaints about landlords.

In response to these findings, Shelter is calling on local councils in the region to take comprehensive action to tackle rogue landlords. Many of these councils have already signed up to Shelter’s Evict Rogue Landlords campaign and are doing important work to tackle these issues. The charity is urging those councils that remain to join the campaign, and those that have joined to deliver on their promise.

Over the last 10 years the proportion of families with dependent children renting privately has risen by 72 per cent, and the total percentage of households renting privately has shot up by more than half. This rise has resulted in high demand and a pressurised rental market.

Shelter is warning that this climate has allowed rogue landlords in the region to flourish, with many families having little choice over the property they live in.

Julie and her family endured terrible conditions in their three-bedroom property:

‘Our landlord was the worst we've ever come across. There was terrible mould and damp all over the house and the heating didn't work, but the landlord refused to do anything about it. It made us ill and ruined all our possessions - we don’t have any photographs left of our children when they were young. When we tried to fight for our rights, the landlord evicted us.

‘People can’t live at the mercy of irresponsible landlords who make renters' lives miserable. That is no way for any family to live and local councils should do everything in their power to drive these landlords out of business.’

Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said: 'Families should never be forced to live in a place where their health and well-being is at risk, so the fact that nearly half of those renting privately in the South West are living in bad housing is shocking.’

He praised the work of some local councils in the region, and called on others to sign up to the Evict Rogue Landlords campaign while stressing that those who’ve already signed up must deliver on their promises:

‘This is the only way to send the message that poor conditions and practices won’t be tolerated and to ensure that rogue landlords are stamped out for good.’