The in-depth YouGov study of 3,500 English private renters shows the most common illegal behaviour faced by renters is a landlord or letting agent entering their home without giving notice or a chance to give permission – a quarter (25%) of respondents had experienced this, which Shelter says is equivalent to 2.1 million people.
Safety and standards were also a concern, as 22% of private renters said essential safety or household appliances like smoke alarms, central heating or water supplies were not working when they moved into a property.
And despite tenancy deposits often costing people thousands of pounds, 18% of private renters said their landlord or letting agent had broken the law by failing to secure their deposit in an approved Government Protection Scheme.
Even more concerning, 9% private renters surveyed said they have been assaulted, threatened or harassed by their landlord or letting agent.
Ahead of the Conservative Party conference next month, Shelter is calling on the government to keep its promise to provide greater protections for renters. The housing charity has warned that the upcoming, landmark Renters’ Reform Bill must include a National Landlord Register to ensure landlords fulfil their legal obligations, help regulate the private rental sector, and give renters the power to enforce their rights against law-breaking behaviour.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Home is everything. Yet millions of private renters across the country don’t feel safe or secure in theirs because of landlords and agents who flout the law. People should not have to put up with broken safety alarms, strangers bursting into their homes unannounced or the threat of harassment and violence.
“Enough is enough. Nobody is above the law and renters are tired of being powerless to enforce their rights. The government has promised voters a fairer private renting system that punishes illegal behaviour by landlords and letting agents. To deliver on this promise, its Renters’ Reform Bill must include a National Landlord Register that makes landlords fully accountable and helps drive up standards across private renting.”