Rogue landlords making life unbearable for tenants, says Shelter
More than 125,000 people privately renting homes in England have suffered abusive behaviour from landlords in the last year, according to Shelter.
The housing charity is warning that a small minority of rogue landlords are making life "unbearable" for tenants, with some seeing their belongings burned and others having utilities cut off in efforts to intimidate them.
Shelter said that in the last year, almost 17,000 people have called its helpline about problems with a landlord.
The charity highlighted the case of a man named Chris, who said a rented flat where he lived with his wife had damp and a leaking roof. Chris said his landlord failed to carry out some repairs and started entering his home without permission.
Chris said: " Then one day he became really aggressive and hurled some stones at me. We both just felt so frightened."
Helpline adviser Mark Cook said: "Every day at Shelter we speak to people desperate for help because their lives are being made unbearable by a rogue landlord. Some of their experiences are truly awful - from renters who have been illegally evicted and had their belongings burned, to those who've had their utilities cut off because their landlord wants to intimidate them.
"No one should have to put up with a landlord who breaks the law and it's so important to know your rights as a renter. Shelter is here to help anyone having problems with their landlord."
Shelter said free advice is available online at shelter.org.uk/advice or through its helpline on 0808 800 4444.
The findings are based on a survey of 3,792 people for Shelter, in which 60 claimed their landlord or letting agent had been abusive towards them or another tenant in the last year.
Shelter applied the findings to the English Housing Survey and Census data to come up with its estimate that more than 125,000 people had experienced abusive behaviour in the last year.
Shelter's director of services, Alison Mohammed, said: "It's shocking that a small minority of rogue landlords who are exploiting the housing crisis can cause so much havoc and misery in the lives of renters.
"The only way to fix the problem long-term is to make renting fit for purpose for the millions of ordinary families searching for a safe and stable home."
David Cox, managing director of the Association of Residential Letting Agents, said that Shelter's research demonstrates that the majority of landlords are doing a good job, while a small minority are tarnishing the sector's reputation.
He said: "We're calling for greater regulation."
Housing minister Brandon Lewis said: "The Government has introduced a range of powers to tackle rogue landlords, backed by £6.7 million of Government funding, which has resulted in nearly 40,000 property inspections and over 3,000 landlords facing further enforcement action or prosecution."
He continued: "We have made significant progress but we are determined to go even further. We are cracking down on those who rent out dangerous, dirty and overcrowded properties.
"We have published a discussion document that sets out our proposals, including a blacklist of rogue landlords and letting agents, tougher penalties for the worst offenders, the extension of rent repayment orders and the introduction of civil penalties."