Study reveals that significant numbers of renting families in England are living in squalid conditions

A recent study of the private rental sector in England has shown that the number of households bringing up children under the age of four in substandard conditions, including damp walls, vermin infestations and broken heating, has risen by around 75,000 since 2007.

There are now around 4.8 million rented homes in the UK, a figure that has doubled since 2000. In 2016/17, half of new households were private renters, which is the twice the number that became owner-occupiers in the same period. In total, 1.2 million rental homes fail to meet the decent homes standard. A ‘decent home’ is one that is free from health and safety hazards, is in a reasonable state of repair, has reasonably modern facilities, can be heated and has reasonable insulation.

Co-author of the report, Julie Rugg, a senior research fellow at the University of York’s Centre for Housing Policy, says “There is a disproportionately high percentage of households with babies and infants living in the private rented sector and there is a particular concern for the longer-term health consequences of living in damp, mouldy property with poor thermal comfort…Declining home ownership and a shortage of social rented homes have led to a surge in the number of people privately renting, particularly families with young children,” said Rugg. “Unfortunately, in its current form, the private rental market isn’t providing a suitable alternative. We need to see a fundamental rethink of the role that private renting plays in our housing market.”

There is increasing pressure on the government to introduce tougher regulations for private landlords, as less and less social housing is available to vulnerable people, many are now left with no option but to rent privately. John Healey, the shadow housing secretary recently said. “Nearly 5 million households now rent their home from a private landlord, but you have fewer rights renting a flat than you do buying a fridge freezer”.

If you live in a rented home that has fallen into disrepair and your landlord does not seem to be taking your complaints seriously, you may be able to make a claim against them to ensure the repairs are carried out. In some cases, additional compensation can also be claimed, especially if anyone in your household has suffered illness or injury because of the condition of the property. Contact CEL Solicitors for a free claim assessment and to discuss your options, on 0808 273 0900 or 0203 925 4551.