10th July, 2021
A leading housing campaigner has branded a renting watchdog “an indolent Chihuahua” after figures emerged showing that the Housing Ombudsman Service has helped tenants in just 0.001% of the UK’ 10.5m rented homes.
The most recent Annual Report from the renting watchdog states that the body – set up by law to deal with complaints against landlords – ordered just 1618 landlords to get rid of mice, address damp and mould or fix electrical problems last year.
Estimates suggest that there are currently 10,500,000 rented properties in the UK – meaning this equates to just 0.001% of rented homes.
The figures also show that the average time for cases to be resolved is six months, and that 5% of landlords do not comply with orders for at least six months.
The recently published English Housing Survey – the government’s official study of housing – found that 23% of privately rented homes and 12% of socially rented homes did not meet minimum housing standards.
Housing campaigner - and Chief Executive of claims management firm Veriwise - Ajay Jagota criticised the Housing Ombudsman Service’s performance.
“Official figures show that nearly a quarter of private renters are living in substandard homes. They need a strong watchdog to stand up to dodgy landlords – instead they seem to be relying on an indolent Chihuahua.
“The Ombudsman’s own figures suggest that a landlord not fixing problems is the biggest single complaint renters have. These are tenants who need help getting their landlord to fix a broken boiler, fix a leaking roof or fix damp and mould – but only 0.001% renters are getting that help.”
“At the same time they’re worried that a complaint will lead to a deduction from their deposit or even a retaliatory eviction.”
“We have set up Veriwise to take on the landlords who dodge their legal responsibilities when official bodies seem unwilling or unable to – and even get tenants compensation when they are entitled to it.”
“Even worse, the Ombudsman’s own figures show that the average case takes six months to resolve even when they do take action – and many landlords don’t even take action when ordered to.
“Plenty of renters ask us questions like ‘how long does a landlord have to fix sewage’ or ‘how long can a landlord legally leave you without heating’. If the Housing Ombudsman is involved it looks like the answer could be over a year”
Veriwise takes on housing disrepair claims on behalf of renters, negotiating with councils or private landlords to get property maintenance issues fixed quickly and claim compensation for renters from landlords. In cases where the landlord does not comply Veriwise have a panel of solicitors who can take the case to court to ensure the landlord complies and pays any compensation.