THE number of Rotherham tenants reporting problems with rogue landlords has more than doubled, according to housing charity Shelter.
The organisation says the increase comes as the private rented sector is seeing its biggest growth on record with the number of households privately renting rising nationally to 3.4m —a 40% rise over the last five years.
Shelter says this is due to a chronic shortage of social housing and millions being priced out of the housing market. People have to earn over £32,000 a year to afford to buy an average-priced house in Rotherham.
Over the past year, Shelter says the number of complaints it has received about landlords in the town has increased by 106%.
Common complaints include:
Dampness and disrepair.
Harassment by landlords.
Unfair or unexpected rent rises.
Despite this, Shelter says Rotherham has no robust scheme in place to tackle rogue landlords.
It says it is concerned that the sharp increase in complaints raises serious questions about how rogue landlords are preying on the most vulnerable people in Rotherham by leaving them to live in properties that are a serious danger to their health and wellbeing.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Our figures clearly show a worrying increase in the number of people seeking our help regarding problems with their landlord in Rotherham.
“It’s frightening to see that complaints about bad landlords are increasing at such a rate, at the very time that renting a home is fast becoming the only option for thousands of families across this country.
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“It appears that rogue landlords are cashing in on this growing market.
"Rotherham council must act now and use every weapon in its armoury to crack down on these unscrupulous operators and help guarantee the growing population of private tenants get the protection they both need and deserve.
“We are asking people across the country to join our campaign to end the misery caused by rogue landlords and sign our petition at www.shelter.org.uk/roguelandlordspetition”
Shleter says that Government housing benefit cuts and changes to the homelessness safety net will push many more vulnerable families into the private rented sector.
The charity is concerned that the influx of people into the bottom end of the private rented sector will lead to an imbalance between supply and demand for properties.
This could see some rogue landlords exploiting the lack of accommodation, with the most vulnerable tenants left with little choice of who to rent from.
The charity is today urging the housing minister to produce a clear plan to tackle rogue landlords and show his commitment to private tenants by ensuring that Rotherham sign up to a minimum standard accreditation scheme.
This is a set of standards relating to the running or condition of private rented accommodation which good landlords can sign up to, allowing people to spot the good landlord from the rogue.
Comedy actors Sean Locke, Chris Oliver and Mike Fielding are supporting Shelter's campaign against rogue landlords by staring in a new spoof film launched today. Sean Locke plays a rogue landlord showing prospective tenants around a grotty and dangerous property, oblivious to any problems it could pose to them.
To view the film visit: http://www.facebook.com/ShelterUK?sk=app_149080965152176
Rotherham housing lifeline extended.
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