The housing charity ‘Shelter’ has released a highly concerning report, that details the shocking conditions that up to 4 million people are living in the UK’s capital. Mould, damp and a basic lack of heating has been found in homes across all of London.
The Shelter Study
This study has been carried out at a time in which many Londoners find themselves at the mercy of an affordability crisis. A perfect storm of soaring private rents, insufficient housing benefits, and the removal of social rent housing has left many people who previously resided comfortably in the capital living in inexcusably bad conditions. Between 2008 and 2019, average private rents in London shot up by a third and the average private renter is found to spend 57% of their income on their rent. With this in mind, the Shelter study used a number of different factors to establish if someone had access to a safe and secure home. These included:
- The affordability of the property
- Whether the property was unfit to live in, or the structure unstable
- If the individual has been subject to discrimination due to their race, gender, disability or sexuality
The damning figures find that a large percentage of the population do not in fact have access to safe, affordable housing. In response, the government has responded by saying that it is ‘unacceptable’ for people to live in unsafe accommodation, adding that ‘this is why we have given councils stronger tools to crack down on rogue landlords, including fines of up to £30,000 and banning orders […] we’ve also announced major reforms to support tenants, including our Charter for Social Housing Residents, that will provide greater redress for residents, better regulation and improve the quality of homes. We’re providing over £750 million this year alone to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping and are investing over £12 billion in affordable housing.’ Despite these claims, the level of insufficient living conditions is highly concerning.
Tenant Rights and Landlord Responsibilities
Everyone has a right to live in a safe home, and there are two main laws which protect both tenants and landlords. These are The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985, and the Housing Act of 2004.
In The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985, the act states that where a short lease of less than seven years is in place, then the landlord is responsible:
- To keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling, including drains, gutters and external pipes.
- To keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling for the supply of water, gas, electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences) but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity, and
- To keep in repair and proper working order the installation in the dwelling for space heating and heating water
The Housing Act of 2004 attempted to further protect tenants, with the introduction of tenancy deposit schemes and the Housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS). This made the owners or landlords of buildings responsible for assessing risks to health and safety, and then removing said risks.
Receiving legal assistance
No one should be forced to live in unsafe or unsanitary living conditions, and you can receive legal support if your landlord is failing to fulfil the requirements laid out in UK legislation. Our housing disrepair specialists have a great deal of experience and will be able to help you throughout the legal process.
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