‘Revenge evictions’ are on the rise across the North West as Britain’s housing shortage remains rife, an investigational study by Shelter has shown.
Poor living conditions continue to be the norm for 38% of renters who admitted to living in mould infested properties in a YouGov survey that was commissioned by Shelter and British Gas.
The findings also highlighted that out of the 4,500 private rental residents surveyed, another 38% had to put up with damp.
Despite these concerning and dangerous issues that many residents face in their homes one in 10 renters in the North West don’t approach their landlords about their problems for fear of being evicted in revenge for complaining.
A couple revealed to MM their unrest after living in a damp-infested one-bedroomed flat in Salford for a month before finding a safer home.
Claire* said: “There were certain things that needed fixing with the house initially, doors needed fixing, the boiler was broken, there was a gas leak – the shower stopped working. But the biggest issue was the rising damp.
“It started out pretty small but then it just grew so quickly to the point where there were mites on the wall, slugs and woodlice.”
John* revealed: “We were phoning up the landlords and sometimes they would never pick up the phone, or they would say they’d ring back and never did. That went on for about three weeks.”
Science has proven that both damp and mould are known to contribute to health problems like asthma and eczema.
Inhaling or touching mould spores can cause allergic reaction like skin rashes, sneezing and can sometimes trigger asthma attacks.
Claire said: “We were so ill. I got a rash all over my arms. We were both off work for a week because of it.
“At the end of the day you want your house to be liveable, that’s what you pay for.
“I rang environmental services because that was the first step to contacting the ombudsmen, we then rang the landlords again and as soon as I mentioned the words environmental health then magically they found another flat for us.”
The figures released by Shelter are part of its campaign to implement a law that protects renters from becoming victims of ‘revenge evictions’ carried out by a small minority of rogue landlords.
Past studies carried out by the charity found that 213,000 people across England faced eviction for complaining about the dismal conditions in their homes – something the couple who spoke to MM weren’t surprised to hear.
John said: “I can understand why people are intimidated. Our letting agents were initially approachable but there was a period of time where I didn’t want to ring them up because the lady would sound really short with me on the phone.”
“They were obviously getting annoyed with us calling them every single day,” said Claire.
“But if they had just sorted it out in the first place we wouldn’t have been ringing them up constantly.”
Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “No family should have to live in a home that puts their health and well-being at risk, let alone face eviction just for asking their landlord to fix a problem.
“Yet every day, we hear from parents up and down the country living in fear that damp or gas and electrical hazards are putting their children in danger, but feeling powerless to do anything about it. This has to stop.
“With a bill to end revenge evictions going through parliament next month, we now have a real chance to change the law and protect renting families.
“We’re calling on people across the country to email their MPs and ask them to vote to end this unfair practice once and for all.”
British Gas engineer Ben Whitehouse, said: “As a British Gas engineer I visit hundreds of homes a year, many of which are rented properties.
“Most landlords take their responsibilities seriously and take simple steps to make homes safe, like ensuring that appliances are correctly installed and regularly serviced, and by installing audible carbon monoxide alarms.
“It’s important that tenants have the confidence to complain to their landlords about potentially dangerous conditions, especially when gas and electrical safety is so vital and easy to get right.”
On November 28 politicians will have the chance to vote on a bill which has cross-party support to protect renters from unfair evictions.
*Names changed on request of the sources.
Image courtesy of Brick Tie Preservation, via YouTube, with thanks