Thousands of tenants have no choice but to accept “appalling conditions” according to the chief executive of campaigning charity Shelter.
Polly Neate makes the comment in response to the publication of a report by the all-party Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons which claims some 13 per cent of the private rented sector stock poses “a serious threat to the health and safety of renters” which is costing the NHS an estimated £340m each year.
At the same time the PAC claims enforcement of the sector “is a postcode lottery …with 21 per cent of all privately rented homes in one region estimated to be severely unsafe”.
The MPs say tenants face increasing rents, a rising number of low-earners and families renting long-term, and the prevalence of Section 21 evictions leaving households at risk of homelessness; and when trying to enforce their right to a safe and secure home private “renters face an inaccessible, arduous and resource-intensive court process and the risk of retaliatory eviction.”
The committee goes on to claim that there is also evidence of unlawful discrimination in the sector, with 25 per cent of landlords unwilling to let to non-British passport holders and 52 per cent unwilling to let to tenants who receive Housing Benefit.
Neate says: “Private renters are getting a rotten deal from a broken system where the odds are stacked against them. The PAC report backs up what we see through our services all the time - that renters live in fear of being evicted for challenging poor conditions or bad landlord behaviour.
“It’s not fair that a mum should have to tolerate her baby sleeping in room riddled with mould, or a family put up with being kicked out of their home for no reason – but thousands of renters have no choice other than to accept these appalling conditions.
“There has never been a stronger case or a better time for the government to make renting fairer, safer and more secure. The government must keep its promise by introducing a Renters’ Reform Bill this year, which scraps ‘no fault’ evictions and brings in a national landlord register.”
You can see our extensive story on the PAC report and its recommendations here.