A new investigation by Shelter has revealed that complaints about private landlords have rocketed.
The charity put in Freedom of Information requests to all 326 local authorities in England and received responses from 310.
The answers showed that the total number of complaints made to those councils about private landlords has risen 27% in the last three years.
During the last year, there were over 85,000 complaints.
Over six in ten complaints (62%) were to do with hazards such as dangerous gas and electrics and severe damp. In the last year, health services had to be involved in 781 cases.
In total, local authorities 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 wellbeing. There could be thousands more victims of these operators, trapped in homes that cause misery and, in some cases, put lives at risk.”
Shelter’s investigation also showed that the number of successful prosecutions made against private landlords has gone up by 77% in the last year.
A total of 487 successful prosecutions were carried out last year, mostly driven by a handful of local authorities such as Newham, Leeds, Salford and Manchester that the charity describes as leading the fight against rogue landlords.
Robb added: “It’s ultimately local authorities that must do everything in their power to support people who are suffering by cracking down on the worst offenders in their area.”