Third of Bristol rented homes 'fail basic standards'

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Almost a third of homes for rent in Bristol do not meet basic standards, according to a housing charity.

Shelter said 29.3% of the 39,000 homes for rent are either not in a fit state of repair, do not have modern facilities, or are not properly heated.

The charity said complaints against private landlords in Bristol had more than doubled in the past three years.

The city council said it was trying to get funding for officers to proactively tackle rogue landlords.

Karen MacVean, service manager for Shelter Bristol, said: "The cost of housing is so expensive, we are seeing more and more people coming to us who are living in the most appalling conditions.

Lucy's story

Lucy moved back home with her family after the landlord of her rented house in Bristol failed to make repairs.

She said: "Over the 18 months I lived there it gradually deteriorated with holes in ceilings, mould and general disrepair.

"We subsequently found out there was a leaking roof into a cavity wall which got progressively worse."

She said the landlord came round with a builder and made a list of jobs that needed doing, but no work was done for four months.

Lucy said she then had an electric shock while turning the iron off and blew all the fuses in the house.

She said: "Bristol City Council were more than happy to come round and do an environmental health survey and submit that to the landlord and create an order to do the work, but they also told me the most likely outcome was (my) eviction."

"Landlords are really preying on those people who can't afford better.

"People shouldn't be living in mouldy, damp, dangerous (homes) with no hot water."

Complaints against landlords had risen from 248 in 2008/09 to 523 in 2011/12, she added.

Gavin Dick, from the National Landlords Association, said: "It's an unfortunate situation where there are many criminals operating within the private rented sector to exploit people.

"Unfortunately the National Landlords Association doesn't have the power to arrest people, that lies with the criminal justice system.

"Where we would like to see more action by councils is taking prosecutions against these people."

Anthony Negus, the council's cabinet member for housing, said they were prosecuting "bad landlords" and one was recently fined £200,000.

"The council does take action, it's reactive and it has to respond to people complaining because it doesn't have the funding to get ahead of these problems at the moment, but we are doing something about that," he said.

"It regularly takes people to court and we do enforce good standards as soon as we get told about it."

He said the council was introducing a licensing scheme for private landlords which would bring in money for the council to appoint officers to "get in ahead and deal with bad landlords".

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