English councils not taking action on 99% of the country’s unsafe rented homes

In an article published by The Independent, it is claimed that a recent Freedom of Information request shows English councils are not taking landlords to task in 99% of the cases where ‘category one’ hazards are found in rented properties.

It’s the legal duty of local authorities to act when a ‘category one’ hazard is found in a rented property, whether it is social housing or owned by a private landlord. A ‘category one’ hazard relates to a problem in the home that could harm the health or safety of anyone who lives there. This could be anything from exposed electrics to broken boilers, a leaking roof, vermin infestations or extensive mould. Councils can issue enforcement orders and even prosecute landlords whose properties fail to meet adequate standards. However, the figures show that a fifth of local authorities did not issue a single improvement notice to landlords last year, despite there clearly being issues in all areas of the country, according another article by The Independent in 2017.

Over a million UK households were found to be living in rented homes which didn’t meet basic health and safety standards in 2017, and the new information shows that local authorities in England took action in relation to just over 10,000 homes last year. Labour MP, Karen Buck, who obtained the figures via a FOI request, is trying to push for new legislation which will enable tenants to take landlords to court themselves, rather than relying on their local council to act.

Ms Buck said: “These figures show that cash-strapped councils are only enforcing against a tiny percentage of properties with serious hazards, which pose a risk to the health or safety of tenants… my bill will give tenants – council, private and housing association – a direct route to take action against their landlord if their home is substandard. It is an important step towards strengthening tenant’s rights, and will help ensure no one has to live in an unfit home.”

More than one in seven local authorities revealed, as a result of the FOI request, that they did not use qualified environmental health inspectors to carry out inspections, leading to fears that those who are carrying out assessments are not properly qualified or trained to spot what constitutes a serious health or safety risk, which could be one reason for the critically low rates of action by local councils.

If you live in a social housing property that your landlord has not repaired, despite the problem(s) being reported to them through the correct channels, you may find that you are eligible to make a claim for compensation. For a free initial assessment of your claim, contact CEL Solicitors today on 0151 909 8212 or email info@celsolicitors.co.uk.