MORE than a quarter of privately rented homes in the West Midlands are considered unfit for human habitation, according to new figures.
The government’s English Housing Survey’s report for 2016/17 found that around 338,000 houses in the UK fall below the standard for safe habitation or display squalid conditions.
Labour party analysis of the figures found that 26 per cent of privately rented homes in the West Midlands are below the standard to be deemed livable.
The figure for social housing from each local authority in the region came to 12 per cent.
Other findings included an eight per cent drop in owner occupied buildings from 2003/4 and the rate of those who buy their homes with a mortgage has fallen 16 per cent in the same period.
With many finding it difficult to get on the housing ladder as house prices continue to rise, private renting has increased in the West Midlands from around 150,000 private residents to around 426,000.
The percentage of housing stock being privately rented rose by 11 per cent in the region.
The figures have added impetus to calls for tenants to be granted more powers to defend themselves against rogue landlords.
The Homes Bill – with a focus on “Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards” aims to drive up standards in the private and social rented sectors by placing an obligation on landlords to maintain their property and keep it in good condition while giving tenants the right to take legal action where their landlord fails to do so.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “It’s shocking that so many renters up and down the country are living in homes that fail basic standards.
“Through our frontline services we see how hard it can be for renters to tackle safety concerns under the current system, which is why we’re delighted that the new Fitness for Human Habitation Bill passed its second reading and is a step closer to becoming law.
“If this simple bill can make it all the way through parliament it will give both social and private tenants far greater rights to legally challenge their landlord on poor and unsafe conditions.
“We urge the government to do all it can to make that a reality.”