Rogue landlords 'harassing tenants'
Many tenants continue to have their lives blighted by rogue landlords despite laws designed to protect them, a housing charity has said.
Shelter said it had found evidence that a minority of landlords in the private rented sector were mistreating their tenants, or letting out properties unfit to live in.
It said 90% of environmental health officers who dealt directly with private tenants had encountered landlords who harassed or illegally evicted their tenants.
Nearly all of the environmental health officers said they had come across landlords who persistently ignored their responsibilities, while 90% had encountered cases of severe damp or mould in properties in the past year, or electrical or fire safety hazards.
Half of the officers questioned said they thought the main reason private landlords let unsafe properties was to make as much money as possible, while the same proportion believed problems in the sector would get worse next year.
Six out of 10 environmental health officers also said more than half of the cases they dealt with involving rogue landlords also involved people from vulnerable groups.
One officer said he had visited a property which had no heating, hot water or electricity.
Another officer was involved in a case where a mother and her young child lived in a property with no kitchen facilities, no fire precautions and only a halogen heater to heat the whole property.
But despite the problems they had encountered, 51% of environmental health officers said a lack of staff was preventing them from prosecuting more rogue landlords.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: "It is simply not acceptable that people are handing over their hard earned cash to live in houses that are run-down, squalid and in some cases even dangerous."