Councils fail to serve improvement notices in three-quarters of cases where they find a Category 1 hazard, finds new research from Generation Rent.
The housing pressure group made Freedom of Information requests to 110 councils in England about their enforcement activity in 2019-20.
Of those that responded, 76 recorded 11,570 Category 1 hazards in private rented homes but only served 2,814 improvement notices, representing 24%. There has been no change since 2018-19, although it was up from 20% in 2017-18.
Generation Rent says this inaction leaves renters vulnerable to retaliatory eviction and makes it harder for them to claim back rent if their landlord fails to fix dangerous disrepair.
Dangerous rented homes
It is calling on councils to commit to serving improvement notices every time they find a dangerous private rented home, which it believes will help to drive out criminal landlords and improve standards.
Private renters already have little confidence in their council taking appropriate action, it adds.
In a poll of 1,008 private renters conducted by Survation, 35% said they would contact the council if their landlord had failed to fix something – but 44% would look for somewhere else to live.
Generation Rent wants councils to improve the way they communicate with local renters and raise awareness of their rights as well as widescale licensing schemes.
Director Alicia Kennedy (pictured) says that tenants move out with no council support and, because so many people are desperate for a home, the landlord has no difficulty in finding a replacement.
She adds: “Budgets are tight, and there’s no question the government must provide more funding to drive out criminal landlords. But there are councils already doing the right thing across the country and these local elections are a chance to elect councillors who will champion renters’ interests and adopt good practices to keep their homes safe.”