Never a nation to complain

by Andy Osborne on

We all know that money is tight, and the Government is not immune to these feelings. Cuts are being made to what seems like every integral part of our community. Does it seem fair though that these cuts once again hit those who are most vulnerable ...No, so why are we allowing it to happen?

I have seen many news reports and late night documentaries recently highlighting how some tenants are being forced to live in dangerous homes that can be at best described as squalor. It is currently estimated that there are 1.7 million households on the social housing waiting list. The lack of social housing means that there has been a 60% rise in families living in private rented accommodation.

I understand that privately rented properties are in great demand and without them there would be an epidemic of homelessness, but the truth of the matter is that private landlords are not strictly regulated.

Currently there are no requirements for private landlords, or their properties, to be vetted before they rent them out. There is also no legal requirement for a private landlord to register on a national database so a check can be kept on their treatment of tenants and the quality of their properties.

While most landlords are clearly decent and maintain their properties to good standards for the benefit of their tenants, a minority of less conscientious landlords do let their properties slide into disrepair.

Unfortunately, some tenants are even too worried to complain about issues of disrepair as an unscrupulous landlord may then serve them with an eviction notice, or worse unlawfully evict them.

There has been a 27% increase in complaints regarding housing conditions over the past two years in the North West alone. Last year, nationally, there were 86,000 complaints against private landlords.

At a time when renting a property is on the increase, and complaints about the state of the properties are also on the rise, why would the Government then try and introduce a Bill which will limit and reduce the ways in which a tenant can complain and rectify poor living conditions.

The Legal Aid Bill will limit the types of housing cases that qualify for legal aid, and dramatically reduce the amount of disrepair cases which will be eligible for legal aid to only those that pose a serious risk to life.

This will severely reduce access to justice for those who need it most and in effect mean that those who may have legitimate reason complain about the conditions which they are forced to live in, will have less support and ways to rectify these issues.

By housing law expert, Victoria Jordan

 


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