Tenants ‘fearful’ of complaining to landlords over hazardous homes

Homes owned by the Cowdray Estate were said to be a category one hazard
Homes owned by the Cowdray Estate were said to be a category one hazard

LANDLORDS including the Cowdray Estate, Goodwood and Leconfield, are leaving tenants in ‘hazardous’ homes, it has been claimed.

While a scrutiny report did not initially name the private landlords failing to provide adequate housing for their tenants, officers at Chichester District Council were quick to label the major estates as some of the main offenders at a meeting on November 17.

A fifth of privately-rented homes in the area were labelled as ‘category-one hazards’ regarding health and safety.

The startling figure was reported at an overview and scrutiny meeting, where large rural estates in the Chichester district, including Cowdray, Leconfield, Stansted Park and Goodwood, were named as contributing to the figure.

“It’s acknowledged that they have probably some of the poorest-quality housing and tenants are fearful of making complaints in case they get evicted,” said Chichester District Council housing operations manager Rob Dunmall.

Mr Dunmall said the scale of fixing all the properties was unlikely without the estates’ cooperation.

“Cowdray owns some 500 properties,” he said. “I imagine a significant number of those would have a hazard of excess cold. It would probably tie up the whole team for a five-year period to take on one landlord.”

And the same report revealed the number of people living in category-one hazards homes for excess cold in the Chichester district was double the rest of the country at 14 per cent.

The matters came to light as the overview and scrutiny committee discussed a review of the council’s private sector housing renewal strategy 2016-2021.

The Leconfield Estate was revealed barely to have had any engagement with council officers in the past 12 years after a visit in 2003.

Following a question from committee member Norma Graves, Mr Dunmall said his colleague Elizabeth Reed, environmental housing manager, and the then cabinet member for housing, Janet Duncton, visited the estate in 2003.

“Liz carried out a visit with Janet Duncton. Engagement stopped straight after that,” he told the committee. “My view is that there was rather some difficulty at Leconfield with engaging with female members of staff. They’re so old fashioned they don’t want to engage.”

The highest concentrations of hazardous homes were found in the wards of Bury, Rogate and Wisborough Green and generally in the central and northern parts of the district, said the report.

Research was carried out by a housing stock modelling survey, which pointed to the areas where poorest-quality housing existed.

Leconfield estate manager Simon Knight said it would be inappropriate to comment but did say: “The estate provides a fantastic number of houses for local people and we’re proud of our record.”

No one was available to comment from the Cowdray Estate. Council officers said they wanted to help troubled tenants but needed tenants and landlords’ permission to enter the properties.

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