Private landlords urged to keep their properties up to scratch

Doncaster’s private landlords are being asked to ensure their properties are up to scratch after council staff have had to tackle 1750 complaints relating to disrepair and health and safety issues in privately rented properties over the last 12 months, which is the equivalent of nearly five complaints every single day.

One hundred and seventy four complaints to the council fell into what is called ‘category one hazards’ - these are the most serious health and safety hazards which can include boiler breakdowns in the cold weather, serious problems with electricity and gas, fire safety issues, and substantial damp and mould in the property.

However, efforts by the council to work more closely with private landlords over the last year to address these types of problems has seen a reduction in category one complaints in the last 12 months from complaints about 147 properties to 82 properties - a 56% per cent reduction.

The remainder of the complaints were less serious and covered issues such as sticking doors, draughts and external paintwork.

Martin Wilcock, the council’s Private Sector Housing Manager, said: “Unfortunately, despite our efforts, a small minority of private landlords still fail to respond to their tenants’ complaints about repairs and consequently these tenants then contact the Council’s Private Sector Housing Service. We always try to work informally with an owner of a privately rented property to arrange to have the repairs carried out, but there are occasions where this doesn’t work and we have to resort to serving Formal Enforcement Notices, and on some occasions the council will have to arrange for the work to be done and the owner is sent the bill which includes our charges. In extreme cases the council will initiate legal proceedings.”

Cllr Ray Mullis, Cabinet member for housing, said: “We have some excellent private landlords in Doncaster and I am committed to working with them to improve the private rented housing offer across our borough, but sometimes a landlord does not meet their legal obligation and in those cases we will use the full force of our enforcement powers if this proves necessary.

“During 2012, we intend to work even more closely with private landlords to ensure the service we provide meets their needs and helps to increase the supply of good quality private rented accommodation”

The Council’s Private Sector Housing Team can be contacted on (01302) 862016.