Tenants in the North East of England filed almost 6,300 rogue landlord complaints between 2014-2016.
A Freedom of Information request submitted to the Tyne and Wear authorities by local property campaigner Ajay Jagota shows that the five councils received a total of 6,297 complaints about the condition of their private rental properties or the behaviour of their landlord during the three-year period.
Some 2,075 complaints were received in 2016, which, although is up by 3.4% on the 2,007 recorded in 2014, is actually down on the 2,215 complaints received in 2015.
Jagota, the Founder of KIS sales and letting agent, says: “To put these figures into context, every day in every local authority in Tyne and Wear, at least one person complains about the condition of their rented home, yet only one rogue landlord has been convicted in three years.”
Separate research shows that just one council – Sunderland – has brought a successful prosecution against a rogue landlord in the corresponding period.
The highest number of rogue landlord complaints was received in Newcastle, where complaints rose steadily from 1,007 in 2014 to 1,127 in 2016 – an increase of 8%.
In contrast, Sunderland saw rogue landlord complaints drop from 509 in 2014 to 290 last year, while Gateshead and North Tyneside recorded declines from 2014 to 2015, but experienced growth again in 2016, leaving them 7% and 4% below 2014 levels respectively.
South Tyneside Council refused to supply the information, claiming that it would take an officer 18 hours to retrieve it, what the authority describes as “substantial effort and disproportionate exercise of trawling”. The decision has been appealed.
Jagota reacts: “As both a resident of and business owner in South Tyneside, I find their decision to refuse our request extraordinary. How can you admit that you hold some information, but at the same time claim you don’t know where it is?”
With the General Election campaign underway, all the main political parties are making a pitch to voters that rent, but Jagota fears that the proposed policies “are just tinkering around the edges when more profound reform is needed”.
He adds: “It’s critical for all good operators in the private rented sector that the rogues are brought to task, and the only way that can happen is that the local authority executes the powers invested in them and ensure they take action when complaints are made.”
If you’re a student landlord or tenant and are wondering who to vote for, this is the best party for you: https://landlordnews.co.uk/political-party-benefit-student-tenants/