An investigation carried out by the housing and homelessness charity Shelter has found complaints about landlords to local councils have increased by 27 per cent in the last three years.
A freedom of information request submitted to all councils across England showed that more than 85,000 complaints were made in the past year alone.
Of those complaints, 62 per cent were about serious and life-threatening hazards. In 781 cases, private landlord behaviour or neglect involved health services.
There were also 487 successful prosecutions against private landlords last year, an increase of 77 per cent. However, these were mostly driven by a small handful of local councils including Newham, Leeds, Salford and Manchester.
Shelter is urging supporters to contact their local council to demand they stamp out rogue landlords as an urgent priority.
Campbell Robb, Shelter’s Chief Executive said: "Despite the significant increase in complaints, we believe that the number of rogue landlords is still underestimated – some local authorities don’t keep records of complaints and tenants often hold back from complaining out of fear of the consequences or because they don’t believe their voices will be heard, even though such a high proportion of complaints are about life-threatening issues."
Shelter has been campaigning for two years to show the scale of rogue landlord problems, and to convince the Government of the need to tackle them.
In response, the Government has pledged to set up a dedicated rogue landlord taskforce, invest £1.8 million to deal with 'sheds with beds' and remove limits to the fines imposed on rogue landlords. It has also just released rogue landlord guidance to all local authorities.
Despite this and the increase in prosecutions, Campell Robb continued: "There is still much to be done. It’s ultimately local authorities that must do everything in their power to support people who are suffering by cracking down on the worst offenders in their area,"
The radio DJ and television presenter Lauren Laverne is supporting Shelter’s campaign, and has provided the voiceover for Shelter’s new ‘Wrong Move’ spoof video. She said: "Working with Shelter, I’ve heard of too many rogue landlords that are simply getting away with ignoring their responsibilities. Living in a house with serious issues such as gas leaks or severe damp can pose a threat to someone’s wellbeing, and to their lives."
Wath the 'Wrong Move' video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bLyLpRfs_8