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Councils have been urged to do more to crack down on the buy to let property sector by the shadow housing minister on a visit to Walsall.
Labour’s John Healy spoke out about the dangers of tenants living in hazardous conditions likely to cause harm during a visit to Walsall. He warned that some tenants are living in conditions that could leave them needing medical attention.
Healy drew on government figures that suggest as many as 2.4 million people in England live in rental properties with category 1 hazards. This is across the private and social sectors.
The worst affected regions are the east and west midlands. These regions feature large amount of Victorian homes, where approximately a quarter of a million rental properties suffer from category one hazards. These hazards include exposed wiring or overloaded electrical sockets, dangerous or broken boilers, very cold bedrooms, leaking roofs, mould, vermin, broken stairs and several other issues.
Healey said: ‘It is a major problem everywhere, but the West Midlands has a bigger problem than most other places when it comes to private rented homes that are not up to scratch. There are too many tenants who just can’t get their landlords to do what they should. In fact, one in four private rented homes don’t even qualify as being fit for human habitation. I’m talking about properties with faulty electrical wiring that can cause a fire, condensation or damp, they’ve got vermin infestations. All of these things can be hazardous to health and to life.’
He continued: ‘Labour is leading legislation that we have now got the Government to back, to give tenants the legal right to take their landlord to court if they don’t make necessary improvements. But in the meantime, people need a council like Walsall to step in and lean on landlords that aren’t doing the job.’
Healy also spoke out in praise of the Walsall Council’s new plans for a licensing scheme for private landlords in the area.
He said: ‘All credit to the council for putting this in place. It shouldn’t be needed, but it is, and if that is what it takes to get some private landlords to pull their fingers out then it must be a good thing. Without a clampdown on the worst landlords, people are at the mercy of living in conditions that no one should have to put up with.’