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Complaints over private-housing landlords rise
TENANTS in York made almost 170 complaints about housing landlords last year as the number of rented properties in the city soars.
Figures released by City of York Council have shown the authority handled six reports of illegal evictions, 11 harassment issues and 120 potential health and safety risks concerning private landlords in 2011/12.
Residents also lodged 30 complaints with the council about unlicensed houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), which see family homes being divided up so several people can live there, particularly students.
Fire crews and police were each called in on three occasions to help the council with issues arising from a landlord’s “behaviour or neglect”.
The council said it had repeatedly dealt with “about a dozen” landlords whose activities were a continuing concern, and said it was concerned about an increase in letting agents in the city.
In 2000, the private rented sector accounted for ten per cent of York’s housing, but that has now risen to more than 15 per cent.
The figures showed the authority took “pre-enforcement action”, such as letters or verbal warnings, against 71 landlords last year, but in 34 cases this had not resolved the issue during 2011/12.
Formal enforcement measures, including legal notices, cautions and court action, were launched on eight occasions, with all but one being obeyed during last year, and three landlords were successfully prosecuted through the courts.
The latest statistics available for how many rented properties in York meet the Decent Homes Standard – which aims to ensure a minimum quality level for housing conditions – date back to 2008.
At that time, 3,606 homes – or 28.3 per cent – met this mark.
The council said rental growth in York over the last 12 years was significant and it believed standards in the city were improving, but a spokeswoman said: “We know standards in the private rented sector, compared to other tenures in the city, are poorer, as is the case nationally.
“However, there are many good landlords and letting agents and private tenants are generally satisfied with the standard of their accommodation.”
She said the recession and rising student numbers had increased rental demand, saying: “We have found the majority of those landlords who don’t adhere to the law do so out of ignorance and we work with them to support them in raising standards.
“However, firm action is taken against those who flout the law or act irresponsibly.”
The figures were released following a request by a member of the public under the Freedom of Information Act.