A new report into the private rented sector in the North of England has panned national and local government efforts to clamp down on ‘rogue landlords’ and called for greater efforts by authorities to ensure the majority of ‘good’ landlords maintain their properties adequately.
“A focus on rogue landlords ignores poor practice and a lack of resilience in the private sector more broadly,” it says.
Many tenants quizzed in the study said their landlords were ‘reasonable and non-exploitative’ and that problems came from a lack of inertia and awareness rather than malice.
Called ‘Lockdown, Rundown, Breakdown’ and backed by a foundation financed by the Nationwide building society and published by the Northern Housing Consortium, it says the problems with housing quality are more acute in the North because of its stock of pre-war, low-value properties.
Based on tenant interview by Huddersfield University researchers, it says: “Many longstanding repair and quality issues were described as worsening throughout lockdown because social distancing measures prohibited contractors from entering the home.
“It was only in extreme cases, such as the breakdown of heating systems, that contractors typically carried out work.”
But the key issue identified is that tenants are under-reporting repairs and maintenance issues because they feel insecure in their tenancies.
“The research points to a need for policy makers to campaign for the reintroduction of the ban on evictions and the need for all organisations to adopt fair-minded and just debt enforcement and debt recovery practices,” the report says.
“It also further supports calls to provide all renters with security of tenure as a necessary step to ensure that renters have confidence to exercise their tenancy rights around repairs and maintenance – this should be a legislative priority.”