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Consumer group slams rental sector over “hazardous homes”

Weak regulation of private renting is leaving hundreds of thousands of tenants living in hazardous homes in England, claims Citizens Advice.

A survey of landlords and tenants conducted for the consumer group apparently reveals that many landlords don’t know or understand their legal obligations, while renters aren’t aware of their rights or don’t feel able to enforce them.

CA claims it means many tenants live in homes with health-affecting hazards such as mould or dangerous problems such as not working or missing smoke or carbon monoxide alarms.


The charity wants a national housing body for private renting to set standards, which could include creating a home ‘MOT’ setting a ‘fit-and-proper-person’ test for landlords and standardising rental contracts.

Some three quarters of landlords consulted in the CA survey, conducted by polling organisation ComRes, agree a single national housing body responsible for setting standards would make their job easier.

Three in five tenants identified disrepair in their home in the last two years that was not caused by them and that their landlord was responsible for fixing.

One in six said the disrepair was a major threat to their health and safety.

Almost one in three tenants claimed their house did not have a carbon monoxide alarm despite requiring one. This affects around 900,000 homes, CA insists.

In its survey of landlords, the research found about a quarter of landlords failed to make sure there’s a smoke alarm on each floor of all of their properties.

The same number allegedly failed to carry out an annual gas safety check or make sure that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms were working.

At the same time, almost one in three landlords said they find it difficult to keep up with rules and regulations. 

Just half did not know the potential penalty (a fine of up to £5,000) for not checking smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order on the first day of the tenancy. The same proportion didn’t know the penalty for not carrying out a gas safety check.

The charity insists that despite recent legislative changes renters lack the power they need to ensure standards are consistent, and landlords and tenants lack the knowledge they need for standards to be upheld.

“Too many private renters live in hazardous homes - often with potentially fatal flaws” claims Gillian Guy, CA chief executive.

“Weak and confusing regulation means landlords can struggle to understand their legal obligations, while tenants find it hard to get problems in their homes resolved” she says.

“The government must establish a national housing body to ensure landlords let property that meet legal standards, and gives renters the support they need when they don’t.”

Poll: is Citizens Advice right in its assessment of hazardous homes to let


  • icon

    Precisely why landlord should be forced to use letting agencies.

  • Fed Up Landlord

    An article full of rhetoric with no evidence.
    "Almost one in three tenants claimed their house did not have a carbon monoxide alarm despite requiring one. This affects around 900,000 homes, CA insists"
    So tenants are versed in the Deregulation Act 2015 and are aware that CO is only required in solid fuel homes and not those with gas? No? Thought not. Even though as an agency we insist on them anyway they are not mandatory. I do agree however that landlords are in the main unaware of their legal responsibilities given the amount of new legislation introduced over the past two years. It's hard enough for agents let alone self managed landlords to keep abreast of things.

    • 27 June 2019 10:39 AM

    Indeed I have fitted hard wired CO alarms in my flats.
    No solid fuel at all.
    Gas and electric appliances.
    Got them because dead tenants are bad for business.
    There have been several adjacent flats which have suffered CO issues nearly killing the occupants.
    Still not legally required which is a bit crazy.
    But CO alarms are definitely worth having even if not legally required in most rental property.
    I prefer my tenants to be protected by such alarms.
    Least I know the rent will be paid.
    Dead tenants don't pay rent!!!!

  • S l
    • S l
    • 27 June 2019 09:31 AM

    How typical of citizen advice bureau to make statements they have no clue about. Firstly, mould issues tend to be a lifestyle issues. Tenant not ventilating property and rooms despite airing tons of clothes or cooking or showers and refusal to switch on heating to dry the house to save money. Yet this problems falls on landlord as scapegoat. Smoke alarms are a requirement of licencing and its the eho officer to give notice improvement to have wired smoke alarm but then it also do need to change battery which is on the tenants same as changing light bulbs.Why am i not surprise major disrepair NOT caused by TENANTS?? Who ever heard of a tenant admitting liability? ever???? I had tenants who had parties and ripped the stairway bannister right off the wall with 3 big holes on the plaster and the bathroom sink left hanging off the wall with floor boards broke in half and its not their fault. Claimed its old house and its falling apart. Disrepair major threat to their health and safety-yeah whose lifestyle was it? cant blame landlord if they trash the place and not keep it clean and tidy and ventilate when new upvc windows got locks to allow small gaps. Wonder where they get their numbers from considering that all the points are dealt with at licencing and checks by eho officer with requirement for gas and electricity certificate. Where did this cab come from ? they are completely clueless. Well 900k is rather far fetch dont you think? somebody needs to take CA to task and if found deliberately lying , should be sued!!! Well, if there is a national body to do the work, should pull off grant from the EHO department in the council and cut down jobs as the CA in a way is saying the EHO are useless and not doing their job which i tend to disagree. another gimmick from CA to get headlines?

  • icon

    Only ever use a LA for Tenant Find Only and never pay them more than £200. Most in our area, cant manage and cant be trusted. To flash for their own good. 4x4s and flash socks trying to tell us professional LLs that we dont know the process. They have been caught out adding on a fee for maintenance never carrying out an Inspection. Withholding rent. Withholding deposit.
    Needs to get back to the good honest LA who took a reasonable fee. Government has had to cap their fees because of ripping off the tenant. Their days are numbered.


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