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Millions of tenants ‘experience illegal landlord or agent behaviour’

Almost half of renters in England have been victims of illegal behaviour from landlords or lettings agents, Shelter claims.

The stark allegations – equivalent to 3.7m people - from the housing charity came as a YouGov study of 3,500 renters revealed the most common illegal behaviour that tenants have experienced.

The most common issue was landlords or agents entering a tenant’s home without permission or notice, cited by a quarter of respondents.


A fifth cited issues with safety standards such as smoke alarms, heating or water supplies not working, while 18 per cent said their landlord or agent failed to secured their deposit in an approved scheme.

The charity is calling for the Renters’ Reform Bill to include a National Landlord Register to ensure landlords fulfil their legal obligations, help regulate the private rental sector, and give renters the power to enforce their rights against law-breaking behaviour.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Home is everything. Yet millions of private renters across the country don’t feel safe or secure in theirs because of landlords and agents who flout the law. People should not have to put up with broken safety alarms, strangers bursting into their homes unannounced or the threat of harassment and violence.

“Nobody is above the law and renters are tired of being powerless to enforce their rights.”

  • Mark Wilson

    Agents are the worst for disrespecting tenants privacy, large part down to poor training.


    Done a survey have you?


    Very bold statement Mark. There are many exceptionally good, professional people/agents out there. These comments help no one.


    Mad Mark off again. Is he Polly in disguise?

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    Newsflash: a large amount of tenants illegally withhold access to agents for viewings. It happens literally every day, up and down the country despite leases clearly stating access should be given upon 24 hours notice. Yet, Shelter don’t seem to cover this…

    Theodor Cable

    And you are right, you can go in after the 24hour limit.
    And that is legal.

    Kristjan Byfield

    Withholding access is not illegal- in fact, that is a tenant's legal right. If you maintain a good relationship with your tenants this is very rare. We look after around 250 tenancies and I cant remember the last time we were unilaterally denied access.

    Roger  Mellie

    Yeah, you have to give 24 hours notice, but if the tenant says "no" then you cannot go in. The tenant has a 'legal rite' to quiet peace and enjoyment, the landlord does not have a legal right to enter if the tenant says no.


    Good Grief, this is the problem. Tenants don't illegally withhold access, they have every legal right to deny access. Build a good relationship with your tenants and you will stand a much better chance at being granted access. At the risk of stating the obvious but Housing Law supersedes anything you write in a tenancy agreement - and housing Law dictates that a tenant has every right to deny access.

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    It’s high time the landlord representative bodies started 1) representing landlords more and 2) fighting back against the constant bashing the majority of good landlords get on a daily basis.
    The majority offer a high standard of accommodation .. and I can see many walking if this continues.

  • Yonnette  Roberts

    Excellently put! The last time I check it was only 2% of landlords that belong to an organisation that represents them. It’s a shame. When landlords come together it makes a difference but I mean landlords who appreciate that they are in the business of providing homes to others and know the business. Not landlords whom still thinks it’s their house and they can do what the hell they want to do. They is a big difference between to two type of businesses.

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    Typical Shelter! 3500 asked out of how many million renters but lets multiply these answers up and make it millions! Were these 3500 people on benefits who are also refusing access to gas checks or not paying their rent I wonder? It is the opposite of another survey that said 83% of tenants were very happy with their Private Landlord, which was higher than were happy with their Social Landlord, but that does not get as much publicity! As ever the sensational attracts the press and not the millions of good Landlords who actually care about their Tenants.

  • Philip Drake

    The presentation of the statistics is biased. Indeed I’m surprised that only half of tenants have experienced such issues. I would have expected more like 80% HAD experienced them.

    It would be more representative if the statistics had been presented showing the occurrences spread over the years.

    If someone has rented for about 60 years from various landlords then during that time undoubtedly they will have experienced a bad landlord. But it may only have been one in 20 landlords!

  • Paul Singleton

    Up to 80% of tenants are now paying more rent thanks to SHELTER! They push the Government to introduce the fees ban which causes some landlords to sell creating a housing shortage and other landlords to increase the rents to cover their extra costs incurred. What do you have to say about that POLLY?

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    Shelter is a government adviser. So is the NRLA who seem to be representing a tiny minority of landlords and seem to be a government stooge.

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    There are lies, damned lies, statistics and Shelter's extrapolation of statistics.

  • Kristjan Byfield

    It is worth remember that Shelter have an agenda- however this isn't to say they don't do good. However, surveys can deliver the results you want depending on how they are constructed and worded. The engaged readership of Shelter will be dominated by tenants who have had the worst experiences- leading to inaccurate portrayal of the real market (the England housing survey reported 80% of tenants are happy with their home). What is more, in my experience, very few tenants truly understand the regulations nd laws in place- as such, asking them to comment on the 'legality' of someone's conduct is not about what IS the law but rather what they think or feel the law should be.


    I congratulate you on picking up on a reasonable point. Unfortunately, others seem unable to conceive the of the need for Shelter.

    I'm having trouble currently liaising with a group of professionals who are unable to understand that in an environment where there are none, literally anything can happen. Nobody would believe some of the stories that I've come across. They are so far outside the range of normal human behaviour that they seem impossible.

    Roger  Mellie

    On Shelters home page:
    Your donation could help end Aida’s nightmare

    Aida has lived in her one-bedroom flat for 16 years. She moved in when she was a student nurse with her four-month-old daughter.

    Today she’s living in the same flat with her four children.

    Her sons don’t have enough room to play, and her daughter has just completed sixth form but doesn’t have any space of her own. The flat also has a mould problem and a rat infestation.

    Aida has done everything in her power to get a bigger and safer flat. But due to a lack of social homes families like hers can’t be rehoused.

    She describes their situation as an ‘unending kind of nightmare’.

    I describe it as when you live in a one-bed flat and have a child already, what do you not want? Yes, a second child. And when you live in a one-bed flat and have two children, what do you not want? Yes, a third! And when you have a mould problem, 3 children with no space of their own and a rat infestation, what do you absolutely not want? Yes, a 4th child. That's 5 people living in a 1 bed flat.

    Aida didn't do everything in her power to keep her legs shut and has created a problem for herself and yet she wants someone else to solve it by giving her money. It's nice to see who Shelter want to help.


    @ Roger Mellie
    It never ceases to amaze me that people in overcrowded homes keep having children. Why? Not only does it make the overcrowding worse, it adds to the CO2 emissions that we are told is killing the planet.

    No mention of the father of her children or did Aida have four immaculate conceptions?

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    PLease remind me of the "good" that Shelter does.

  • Roger  Mellie

    I'd like to see a copy of Shelters survey.

  • Theodor Cable

    I'd like to see anything tha Shelter does that anyone benefits from, except the top brass in that organisation.

    If indeed, you can call an organisation!!!!!!


    The problem I see in this poisonous thread is that whilst the majority of landlords are fair and reasonable, they cannot conceive how bad the small minority actually are. Small landlords, who have been clobbered by changes in taxation regimes and legislation changes, it seems to me, are being assailed on all sides, to the point they must be seriously considering exiting the rental market.

    Denigrating Shelter as you have merely belittles you and shows how very little you know.

    I'm speaking as someone who has previously built a significantly sized portfolio of property in County Durham from scratch but now work commissioning care for some of the country's most vulnerable people.

    As such, this puts me in direct contact with social care funding in the supported living area, which resembles the Wild West following the deregulation of the care industry.

    The typical model here involves rents that are not controlled and can be seen at least twice normal levels, service charges which are over twice to three the cost of the actual services, linked to a self serving charitable institution solely for the purposes of avoid tax, which are controlled by the same entity that provides the care - an arrangement that itself is contrary to the law.

    Profits can be vast. Just last night I was reading the accounts of one such organisation and they were making £4.5m on a turnover of a shade over £10m. It's hard to deny that some of these organisations are anything other than criminal enterprises, who flout the law in all aspects of their business. Typically, they practice a frauldent deception to attract new clients with promises of specific levels of service, which they have no intention of delivering, only to provide minimal services when the client has signed their tenancy.

    Some of these people will not issue a tenancies but instead a license to occupy, giving them the power to evict even the most vulnerable of people overnight. Some housing associations are not housing associations, they just say they are, contrary to the law.

    When it comes to how far they will go in these places to conceal mistakes, it's simple. They will do anything at all, including driving people to take their own lives. They will take everthing from them, their partner, their home and their possessions.

    These are people that depend on Shelter, that benefit from them. The "Top Brass" include busy professionals who donate their time and expertise for no payment because they understand the need, often through personal family experience.

    Having somewhere to live is a primary human need and some of the most vulnerable require specific types of accommodation. How many properties do you rent that are specifically for wheelchair users? Even married couples who are wheelchair users?

    I'd suggest you quietly remove or edit this message because it makes you appear a thoughtless, uncaring bigot.


    @ Roger Sharp
    You are referring to Housing associations and care homes - not professional landlords. Perhaps if Shelter and Polly Bleat stopped, to use your phrase, denigrating proessional landlords, we may regard them differently.

  • Philip Drake

    It would be good to see the questionnaire, the survey answers, how representative the survey population was, how detailed and pertinent the questionnaire was eg did it include: the postcode areas, AST rent, whether the tenant has been/is in arrears, whether the tenant has had any deposit retained, has the tenant abandoned a property with outstanding arrears, has the tenant been taken to court, over what period did the tenancy survey cover etc.
    Also were the landlords of the tenants surveyed to understand their view of the tenant and how the tenancy had been conducted.

  • Mohammad Kamran  Iqbal

    Shelter are quick to forget that’s millions of pounds worth of rent arrears will be lost due to none paying tenants. Why can’t our government arrange for a guaranteed loan for tenants to clear their arrears?


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