On Thursday I had a meeting with Shelter, the housing and homeless charity, to be updated on their campaigns and policy work, and also to discuss how to tackle unscrupulous landlords. There are currently three million households in England who rent their home from a private landlord, and while most landlords are reasonable and honest, a minority are exploitative and threatening in their treatment of tenants. Some refuse to do essential repairs and maintenance, and do not live up to their side of the contract.
A recent survey with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health found that of those officers working on housing enforcement in the private rented sector, nine out of ten had encountered landlords engaging in harassment or illegal eviction, and 78% had dealt with landlords who persistently refuse to maintain their property to a safe condition.
The damage that rogue landlords cause to the lives of often vulnerable tenants is enormous, and can spread to the wider neighbourhood, with rundown properties blighting communities.