Excessive cold and damp are some of the problems blighting rented homes in Leeds.
More than 17,000 privately rented homes in Leedsneed urgent improvements to reach acceptable living standards, a report has claimed. Excessive cold, damp, disrepair and fire safety issues are some of the problems faced by one in four of the city’s 70,000 privately-owned tenanted homes. Housing chiefs in Leeds say more is being done to punish “rogue or criminal landlords”, while helping to support good landlords – while stressing most of the city’s privately rented accommodation is acceptable.
The city Council report stated: “One in four of the private rented sector has at least one or more category 1 hazards present in their property. The main hazards found in the sector are excess cold, falls, disrepair, fire safety and damp/mould. Again the highest level of properties with hazards are within the inner areas of the city. Unfortunately the most vulnerable, the young and elderly who tend to be on low income are generally found in the poorest quality privately rented homes in the city.”
New laws introduced in 2016 gives the councils powers to take legal action against landlords, meaning landlords failing to improve living standards could be fined up to £30,000.
Councils made up the five landlords with the worst record on complying with orders issued by the Housing Ombudsman within three months last year.
Manchester City Council, which owns nearly 16,000 homes, had the worst record in the sector in 2019/20 – it only complied with 20% of orders inside of three months and complied with 80% inside of six months.
Dacorum Borough Council, Newham Council, St Albans Council and District Council and Corby Borough Council, in that order, were the other landlords which performed worst at complying with orders inside of three months.
Newham Council tied with Manchester for the lowest percentage of order complied with after six months at 80%.
Gateway Housing Association, North Tyneside Council and Origin Housing, in that order, made up the other landlords among the five with the lowest percentage for this metric, according to the performance reports.
Redbridge Council had the highest maladministration rate of any social landlord in England; it was subject to at least five investigations by the ombudsman in 2019/20.
Shepherds Bush Housing Group (SBHG) had the second highest maladministration rate with 83%, while Gateway was third with 80%.
Manchester City Council, Newham Council or Redbridge Council did not respond to a request for comment in time to be included in this article.
Renters will continue to be supported during the ongoing national lockdown restrictions, with an extension to the ban on bailiff evictions.
Renters protected with ban on bailiff enforced evictions extended until 31 March
Exemptions in place for the most serious cases
Part of a wider package of support for renters during the pandemic
Renters will continue to be supported during the ongoing national lockdown restrictions, with an extension to the ban on bailiff evictions, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced today (14 February 2021).
The ban on bailiff evictions – which was introduced at the start of the pandemic – has been extended for another 6 weeks – until 31 March – with measures kept under review in line with the latest public health advice.
Exemptions remain in place for the most serious circumstances that cause the greatest strain on landlords as well as other residents and neighbours, such as illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour and arrears of 6 months’ rent or more.
The measures are part of a wide-ranging package of support the government has provided to protect renters from the economic impact of the pandemic, including supporting businesses to pay staff through the furlough scheme and strengthening the welfare safety-net by billions of pounds.
Landlords are also required to give 6-month notice periods to tenants before starting possession proceedings, except in the most serious circumstances, meaning that most renters now served notice can stay in their homes until at least August 2021, with time to find alternative support or accommodation.
For those renters who require additional support, there is an existing £180 million of government funding for Discretionary Housing Payments for councils to distribute to support renters with housing costs.
Laws designed to make sure dangerous cladding is removed has left many flats un-mortgageable and unsellable.
The call comes ahead of a parliamentary debate about protecting tenants and leaseholders from unsafe cladding. The National Cladding Taskforce would seek to carry out an urgent audit to establish the extent of dangerous materials on buildings. Demands include providing upfront funding to remove deadly cladding, setting absolute deadlines to make homes safe, laws to protect leaseholders from being billed for historic fire safety costs, pursuing those responsible for installing cladding and stamping out rogue building practices.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Millions of people have been sucked into this crisis due to years of dither, delay and half-baked solutions from the government. For many leaseholders, the dream of home ownership has become a nightmare. They feel abandoned, locked down in flammable homes and facing ruinous costs for repair work and interim safety measures.”
It comes more than three years after the fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017, which claimed the lives of 72 people. A fridge-freezer has been blamed for starting the fire but dangerous cladding on the building was blamed for its rapid spread. Laws designed to make sure dangerous cladding is identified and removed has left many flats un-mortgageable and unsellable, with residents facing bills of tens of thousands of pounds to fix the problem.
Tenant Kirsty Higgs has been living with damp and mould for three years.
The 28-year-old says the damp and mould has now reached her bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room and spare room.
And she says she has been complaining to Aspire Housing about the state of her Clayton home ever since she moved in.
“You can see the wetness on the walls and the cracks in the windowsill. The condensation is bad and it doesn’t matter if I have the windows completely open. There’s mould all around the windowsill and at the top of the roof. Most of the mould was black but is now turning white. You try to clean it up but it’s disgusting and it gets you down. I’ve spent that much on mould spray and it comes back with a vengeance. I have got depression and anxiety and it’s getting me down all the time because you can’t really go out much apart from your exercise so I am stuck in here all the time.”
Kirsty had been waiting for a ‘third or fourth’ surveyor to visit her property. However the appointment has been cancelled due to UK Lockdown.
She added: “I pay my full rent – and I always have. I have stuck to my end of the bargain with the contract but they have not. I’ve asked to be moved because of my mental health issues – and they’ve said that can’t happen.”
Aspire Housing has confirmed that Kirsty’s latest appointment was cancelled.
A Leeds dad is fearing for his children’s safety while the family is stuck in a council home plagued with black mould.
The family has spent the last few months pleading with council officials to visit their home in Bramley, but said he has not heard back from anyone since August. The father fears that the black mould is already having an adverse effect on their health with his child developing a cough which has not been linked to coronavirus.
The concerned father initially reported damp and black mould throughout his Bramley home in early 2020. He said: “As you can see from the pictures, it is really bad throughout the house. “But it really worries me that it is now in the children’s bathroom. I worry for their safety.” “My nine-month-old already has breathing issues. “My partner is six months pregnant – I should not have to worry about bringing our child home, but I am, very much so.”
After the council initially visited the property in August, the man claims that he was told the majority of the areas were not damp and the mould was due to condensation. He said: “When I was told that it was condensation, I thought he was joking. I’m sorry, but it’s clearly damp!
“Either way, I am paying my rent to live here. I am paying all my bills, all I want is to keep my family safe. “I know that’s not too much to ask for. The council know that they need to do more to help me and the family, so why haven’t they been since August?”
A Merseyside family say they have ‘no choice’ but to continue living in a damp house.
A family has been left with no electrical appliances in her kitchen after excessive damp has been found. Linda said the issues with the house are even more challenging because her one-year-old daughter Lily has Type 1 diabetes. She claims the family are having to run an extension cable to keep their fridge on, which has her daughter’s life saving insulin inside. The issues at the home began after work started on the kitchen but was halted when excessive damp was found. The work was initially due to take around 10 days to complete.
Linda claims her family have been living in damp at the Garton Lane home since 2019 and she had reported it to her housing provider Your Housing Group. However the situation became worse when builders uncovered ‘sodden’ walls while doing work on the kitchen. Despite reporting the damp, they hadn’t requested for any work to be completed on the kitchen. They claim their housing provider insisted the work was carried out.
Constantly freezing cold,despite leaving the heating on 24 hours a day.
The thought of her baby crawling around on the mouldy floors causes her anxiety and stress.
Condensation on her windows and doors.
Tara constantly tries to clear the mould off the walls and make her home as clean and safe as possible for her family, but it just keeps coming back. Trivallis has sent round inspectors to take a look at the problem in her home but Ms Law says the organisation “don’t seem to care”. “It’s stressful, the house is too small for us anyway,” Ms Law adds, saying she is sleeping downstairs with her baby so her eldest children don’t have to share a room.”I want them to deal with the jobs.”
Court found L&Q had misled black woman who was harassed by family and had to flee her home.
London & Quadrant (L&Q), which accommodates 250,000 people across London and the south-east. Ignored a code of practice on protecting tenants from racial harassment and was guilty of defensiveness and insensitivity.
Lara Tate (not her real name), a young black woman who lives alone, was forced to flee her London flat in 2015. She had suffered months of racist abuse from a neighbouring family that culminated in death threats. The couple were convicted of public order offences and racially aggravated harassment, but L&Q failed to evict them or to rehouse Tate, who felt too unsafe to return to the property, a converted house where she and the neighbours were the only occupants.