Fury of tennants as homes left to go to ruin

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HUNDREDS of official complaints have been made this year by tenants over private sector landlords failing to fix their Doncaster properties.

Figures released by the Private Sector Housing team at Doncaster Council reveal they have had to deal with 530 complaints over the last 12 months about private landlords not carrying repairs.

But the figure has fallen compared to 2010, which saw 605 complaints made over landlords in the borough.

They include serious concerns such as the failure of heating systems. Complaints about housing conditions usually increase over the winter months, say experts.

Among those who have found themselves lodging official complaints has been Angela Davies, who lives in a terrace home in the town centre.

She was left in the cold, without heating and hot water, for six weeks after her gas boiler broke down. She had to visit her daughter every day to get a bath.

Angela said: “When the boiler broke down I tried getting help from my landlord but the repair work wasn’t getting done.”

Private landlords have legal responsibilities to their tenants and if they do not carry out important repairs, the council can step in to ensure the work is carried out.

If nothing is done after it has contacted the landlords, an enforcement notice can be issued. Coun Ray Mullis, Doncaster Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “We are extremely keen to work proactively and in partnership with private landlords to find ways that Doncaster Council can help them to improve standards in the private rented sector and grow the number of affordable private rented homes in the borough.

“But for those who refuse to take their legal responsibilities seriously then we will use our enforcement powers if necessary.”

Stuart Highfield, managing director of the Doncaster-based Highfield Property Services letting agency, said most private sector landlords carried out vital repairs quickly but said there may be a few rogue landlords who did not.

He said: “If people cannot get hold of their landlord, then there can be a problem. We have an agreement that we will carry out important repairs straight away up to a certain value. An agent will use common sense to get things sorted.”

* Anyone with repairs which have not been carried out can contact Doncaster Council’s Private Sector Housing team on 01302 862016.