13th January, 2021
Only one landlord in 34,000 is a member of a government-backed watchdog scheme designed to deal with tenant’s complaints about the condition of their rented homes.
Figures obtained by Ajay Jagota, founder of housing complaint claims management company Veriwise, show only 79 private landlords and letting agents have signed up to the Housing Ombudsman Service.
The Ombudsman is a government-backed body designed to deal with renter complaints when landlords won’t fix problems like leaking roofs, rodent infestations, broken boilers and faulty electrics.
65 people are employed by the Ombudsman meaning that the organisation has almost one staff member for every private landlord member.
The 79 landlords who have signed up make up just 0.002% of the estimated 2,660,000 private landlords in the UK – even though membership costs just £2.16 per property.
Figures from the Ombudsman show that 40% of complaints received by the organisation relate to the condition of rented properties.
Housing campaigner - and founder of claims management firm Veriwise - Ajay Jagota believes the case shows that the system is failing to keep tenant safe.
“Many landlords appear not to take tenant’s complaints seriously – when you see figures like this it’s hard to blame them.
“The Housing Ombudsman has almost as many staff as it has actual landlord members, the inevitable outcome of a voluntary system – no wonder renters don’t know who to contact when a landlord won't fix anything.
“The numbers are bleak. 4.6 million rented homes in the UK do not meet minimum standards. 1 million aren’t fit for human habitation and over 1 million have a damp problem. An immeasurable number of other renters are living day after day with their landlord not fixing things like cookers or heating – but only 0.002% of privately rented tenants have a complaint resolution service to support them.
“Up and down the country we have tenants asking themselves why their landlord won’t get rid of mice or wondering how long a landlord has to fix an electrical problem or can legally leave them without heating.
“The reality is most renters don’t know where to turn to –and they certainly don’t have the confidence or legal skills to fight their case in court or the resources to pay for a lawyer. We founded Veriwise to give them the support the system seems not to give them.”
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.
All renters have to do is submit the issues they are experiencing with their rented home online, allowing Veriwise to identify legal breaches and follow them up with landlords to rapidly resolve the issue and seek compensation where appropriate. Veriwise is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Although primarily a service for social housing tenants, private landlords and letting agents are entitled to join the Ombudsman scheme.