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Citizens Advice calls for a new rental watchdog

Citizens Advice is calling for a national housing body to regulate private renting.

Hundreds of thousands of private renters are living in unsafe properties, according to research collected by the charity.

ComRes conducted a survey of landlords and tenants on behalf of Citizens Advice which found that many landlords do not understand their legal obligations and renters are unaware of their rights.

The charity adds that this has led to tenants living in homes with health-affecting hazards such as mould and without smoke or carbon monoxide alarms.

Citizens Advice wants a national housing body to enforce a “home MOT” and to determine a “fit-and-proper-person” test for landlords.

The charity also wants to see rental contracts standardised.

Three in five tenants, 60 per cent, identified disrepair in their home over the last two years which their landlord should be responsible for fixing and 15 per cent said the disrepair was a major threat to their health and safety.

In addition, 32 per cent of tenants said their homes did not have a carbon monoxide alarm, which affects an estimated 900,000 properties and 26 per cent of landlords failed to carry out annual gas safety checks or to make sure their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms work.

Three quarters of landlords agreed that a national housing body responsible for setting standards would make their job easier.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy says: “Too many private renters live in hazardous homes – often with potentially fatal flaws.

“Weak and confusing regulation means landlords can struggle to understand their legal obligations, while tenants find it hard to get problems in their homes resolved.

“The government must establish a national housing body to ensure landlords let property that meet legal standards and gives renters the support they need when they do not.”

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