Shelter investigation reveals complaints about rogue private landlords have soared.

Complaints against private landlords are up, and so are prosecutions.

A recent investigation by the homeless charity Shelter has found that complaints about private landlords have rocketed in recent years.

The charity made a request under the Freedom of Information Act to all 326 local authorities in England, and received a response from 310 of them.

The reports showed that the total number of complaints made to the local authorities regarding landlords had increased by 27% in the last three years.

In the past year there have been 85,000 complaints made against private landlords, with one in six complaints mentioning hazards in properties such as dangerous gas and electricity provisions and severe damp. Health services were called to deal with 781 cases last year.

Local authorities have identified 1,449 private landlords who have given them cause for concern in the last year.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Despite the significant increase in complaints, we believe that the number of rogue landlords is still under-estimated.

“Some local authorities don’t keep records of complaints and tenants often hold back from complaining out of fear of the consequences or because they don’t believe their voices will be heard, even though such a high proportion of complaints is about life-threatening issues.

“Every day at Shelter we see the devastating impact these landlords have on people’s health and well being. There could be thousands more victims of these operators, trapped in homes that cause misery and, in some cases, put lives at risk.”

The investigation also found that the number of successful prosecutions brought against private landlords had increased by 77% in the past year, meaning that local authorities are becoming more effective at seeking out those responsible for poor quality housing in their area.

The highest number of prosecutions were made in Newham, Leeds, Salford and Manchester, areas which the charity describes as leading the fight against rogue landlords.

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