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Charity renews its attack on poor standards in private lettings sector

The Citizens Advice Bureau consumer charity has stepped up its campaign about poor standards in the private rental sector.

It claims private tenants from across income scales are living in unsafe homes that fail to meet basic legal standards, with 700,000 privately let homes in England alone suffering category 1 hazards which can include rat infestations, unsafe electrics, cold and damp.

The CAB report Paying a High Price for a Faulty Product shows 30 per cent of households living in unsafe privately rented homes have an annual income of more than £30,000, with 18 per cent earning more than £40,000 a year.

It says that “despite private rented accommodation costing the most” the sector is most likely to have category 1 hazards - 17 per compared to 12 per cent of owner-occupied homes and six per cent of social rented homes.

The report, produced with New Policy Institute, shows:

- There are more than 100,000 households who pay more than £900 per month to live in an unsafe private home;

- The average monthly rent for an unsafe home in the private sector is £650, not much lower than the average overall cost of £720 for a home that meets minimum standards;  

- Just 210,000 of the households in unsafe privately rented homes have no one in work or are of pension age;

- Private renters in England spend £4.2 billion a year to live in unsafe homes that fail to meet legal standards;

- Half a million children live in unsafe privately rented homes.

“For too long the private rented sector has been seen as a side issue in the British housing crisis debate. This is utterly wrong as the astronomical cost of buying property means increasing numbers of people and families are moving into private tenancies” claims Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice.

“It is good the Housing Bill includes plans to give tenants the rights to rent refunds when their homes are unsafe - but it’s imperative renters don’t have to stump up court fees to seek this justice.”

In the last year Citizens Advice claims to have helped more than 82,000 people suffering from a problem with a privately rented home. 

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