The Residential Landlords Association has hit out at the selective use of statistics by British Gas and Shelter as they announced a five-year partnership aimed at improving standards in the private rented sector.
The campaign, called Better Homes for Britain, will commission what it calls the widest-ever census of private rental living.
It launched shortly before British Gas announced that it is hiking its rates for gas and electricity by six per cent.
Figures cited by the campaign include statistics from the Government’s English Housing Survey: 605,000 rental homes being too cold; 856,000 being damp or unsafe; and 322,000 being in poor repair.
But the RLA criticised the campaign’s selective use of statistics, pointing out that English Housing Survey also shows that 84 per cent of tenants in the sector are satisfied with their tenancies – a higher proportion than in the social sector.
The RLA also said that the statistics quoted by British Gas and Shelter are inappropriate for a number of reasons.
The RLA pointed out that it was not logical to cite poor electrical safety, carbon monoxide and damp problems together, and said: “Causes of damp are manifold and may be due to tenant behaviour such as drying washing indoors.”
It also said that the rental home might be cold not because it lacked heating but because the tenant could not afford to turn it on. British Gas’s new, higher charges will add an average of £80 a year to a bill.
The RLA also accused Shelter and British Gas of failing to recognise that, as outlined in the English Housing Survey, 40 per cent of private rental homes are older properties, built before 1919. And despite claiming one third of PRS properties are “non-decent”, 20 per cent of social housing fails the test too.
Calling on tenants to be more discerning before renting a property, Alan Ward, Chairman of the Residential Landlords Association, said, “When choosing a rented home, tenants should ask for details of heating costs and its EPC energy certificate, as well as safety certificates for gas and electricity. And preferably use a landlord belonging to a reputable association or accreditation scheme, or a regulated agent”.