An extremely concerning report from housing charity Shelter has revealed that thousands of tenants in the private rental sector have suffered abuse from their landlords.
The types of abuse ranged from harassment, assault and both physical and verbal abuse, all of which could have resulted in legal action.
Shelter suggests that 17,000 renters have called its helpline in order to lodge complaints regarding abuse. Worryingly, the charity said the cases included people saying landlords had cut off their utilities, entered their property unannounced and even burned their possessions.
Other common disputes recorded included issues over deposits and terms of an agreement.
More cause for concern comes with the charity’s prediction that many more tenants may be suffering at the hands of rogue landlords. On the results of a survey of 3,800 respondents, Shelter feel that 125,000 within England had experienced abuse, with many more in receipt of abuse strong enough to result of legal proceedings.
The charity highlighted the case of one particular tenant who had moved into a rental property in London, only to discover problems.
‘There was damp in the bedroom-black walls basically,’ said the tenant. ‘There was a leaking roof that went on for months and we had no gas safety certificate,’ he added.
Having drawn up a list of 18 issues with the property, the tenant approached the landlord again. However, the landlord not only refused to fix the problems but also started to enter the property without permission. ‘Then one day he became really aggressive and hurled some stones at me,’ the student claimed.
Another tenant said that his landlord served him an eviction order just five days before Christmas, before sending him abusive text messages. When the tenant and his partner did move out, the landlord demanded a further month’s rent.
Thousands of tenants in England suffer abuse
With many young professionals and families being priced out of the housing market, it is thought that one in five households in England is privately rented. Experts predict that this number will rise in the coming decade.
Shelter helpline advisor, Mark Cook said that the charity spoke to people daily who had experienced difficulty with rogue landlords. ‘Some of their experiences are truly awful-from renters who have been illegally evicted and had their belongings burned, to those who have had their utilities cut off because their landlord wants to intimidate them,’ Cook said.
‘No one should have to put up with a landlord who breaks the law and it is so important to know your rights as a renter,’ he concluded.