Private renters who complained to their landlord about conditions in their home are more than twice as likely to be evicted from their home than tenants who have kept quiet, a new YouGov poll has shown.
Tenants who complained to landlords, letting agents or the local authority over the last three years were 159 per cent more likely to be handed an eviction notice.
The threat of eviction meant a quarter of private renters – equivalent to just over 2 million people – were afraid to complain to their landlord in case they were kicked out of their home.
The poll, which quizzed 2 million renters in England on behalf of housing charity Shelter, showed the need for the government’s long-promised Renters Reform Bill to be brought into force to strengthen tenant’s rights, the charity’s chief executive Polly Neate said.
“By dragging its heels on the Renters Reform Bill, the government has left private renters in a terrible catch-22 – they either shut up and put up with disrepair, or risk more than doubling their chances of eviction in a cost of living crisis,” said Neate.
“Day in, day out, Shelter hears from people who are forking out huge sums on rent while living in nightmarish conditions because private renting is woefully under-regulated. It is a travesty that so many private renters are too afraid to complain about the mould growing all over their kids’ clothes, or the water pouring in through broken window frames, in case it costs them their home.
“Renters are bearing the brunt of government dithering over urgently needed private rental reforms. Renters can’t wait any longer, the government must urgently make its Renters Reform Bill law to protect tenants who call out poor conditions from unfair evictions and homelessness.”
The government laid out its plans to introduce the Renters Reform Bill last June – over three years after initially promising to axe Section 21 evictions. Also known as no-fault evictions, the mechanism allows landlords to evict tenants with just two months’ notice and without giving a reason.
Shelter has called for the government to bring forward the legislation to boost tenant’s rights and to allow them to improve the conditions of their homes without the fear of a revenge eviction.
The YouGov research showed three-quarters of private renters – equivalent to more than 6 million people – have experienced disrepair in their home.
Over half the tenants surveyed said they had experienced issues with damp and mould while 31 per cent had issues with a lack of hot water. A further 18 per cent had lived alongside issues with essential safety equipment in their homes, such as smoke or carbon monoxide alarms.
Teacher Chiara, 33, faced an eviction notice after requesting repairs for severe damp and mould in the two-bedroom home she shares with husband Ben, 34, and three-year-old daughter Maggie in Leyton, east London.
Chiara said: “Last Christmas Eve we received a 25 per cent increase in rent, despite us living with long-term damp and mould. I complained, and in the New Year the landlord responded with a Section 21 eviction notice, saying they didn’t accept any responsibility for the disrepair or damage.
“Even before the Section 21, we’d spend a lot of time at the library, church, or cafes, just so we didn’t have to worry about Maggie being in the damp and cold. I was up all night looking online for properties, but it’s really hard out there. Rents have massively gone up. People are so desperate they’ll consider taking a flat that’s mouldy or in disrepair just because there’s nothing else.”
While the government has so far been quiet on when it will strengthen renters’ rights with the Renters Reform Bill, prime minister Rishi Sunak revealed new legislation would be used to crackdown on tenants due to anti-social behaviour.