New research by housing charity Shelter has found that over 39,000 private rented homes in the West Midlands equivalent to 1 in 10, have suffered from animal infestations such as mice and cockroaches in the last year alone. The Shelter and YouGov poll of over 3,700 private renters in England revealed that bad living conditions are rife in rented homes, with almost half of renters (46%) in the West Midlands reporting that they had experienced problems with poor conditions or disrepair in the last year.
Almost a third of private renters surveyed by the housing charity said they had lived in a property with damp or mould (30%), a fifth suffered with poor insulation and excess cold (20%), while electrical hazards were reported by 8% of renters.
Last year, almost 6,000 private renters called the Shelter helpline and nearly 400,000 people visited the website for expert advice on conditions or disrepair in their homes.
The findings come as no surprise, with recent government statistics showing that 1 in 6 private rented homes in England contain a health and safety hazard. The housing charity is warning that huge numbers of renters are stuck in homes which are not fit for purpose, often not knowing their rights or where to go for support and advice.
Shelter helpline adviser Nadeem Khan said: “Every day at Shelter we speak to people desperate for help, after being forced to live in appalling conditions for months on end.
“Some of the housing horrors we hear are truly shocking – from people who are forced to live in flats crawling with fleas or rats, or with water pouring out of the toilet waste pipe, to those who’ve been through the ordeal of a fire in their home caused by faulty wiring.
“No-one should have to live in a home which is unsanitary or unsafe, and that’s why it’s crucial to know your rights as a renter. Shelter is here to help anyone putting up with bad conditions, and our free expert advice is available online at shelter.org.uk/advice or through our helpline 0808 800 4444.”
Campbell Robb, Shelter's chief executive said: "It’s shocking that renters in the West Midlands are stuck living in properties riddled with problems, often paying sky-high rents for the privilege.
“Imagine trying to raise a child in a home crawling with vermin or falling apart at the seams, with a rogue landlord who refuses to fix it and nowhere else to go because of there’s nothing else you can afford. It’s just not right.
“The government must to do more to protect renters from the rogue landlords who let out these shoddy properties, so that every renter can feel safe in their own home.”
Anyone having problems with their landlord can get free and independent expert advice from Shelter at shelter.org.uk/advice or by calling the helpline on 0808 800 4444.