Fears have been raised that good landlords are being affected by the failure of councils to crack down on rogue landlords.
According to the Citizens Advice Bureau, in the last eight years around 2,000 landlords have been prosecuted despite 740,000 families living in private rental properties that pose a serious risk to their health.
Indeed, the figures also reveal that in the last five years one in four councils have failed to prosecute any landlords whatsoever for providing unsafe accommodation.
Just half of councils are prosecuting fewer than two rogue landlords a year with North London having the most housing offence convictions.
The Residential Landlords’ Association (RLA) says that in the last eight years just 2,000 landlords have been convicted with an average fine of £1,500.
Good landlords and tenants are being let down
The RLA's head of policy, David Smith, said: “Good landlords and tenants are being let down by councils who have powers to enforce standards in rental housing and deal with criminal landlords.
“It's sad that the record for enforcement is patchy and sometimes non-existent.”
The revelation follows reports in one national newspaper that rogue landlords are paid hundreds of millions of pounds in housing benefit despite their properties being dangerous and filthy.
Critics say there is a lack of oversight which allows rogue landlords to grow rich despite having properties with unsafe electrics, unhealthy damp levels and animal infestations.
A spokeswoman for the housing charity Shelter said: “When demand for property is higher than supply, rogue landlords can thrive and tenants feel they do not have an alternative.”
New rent record reached in England and Wales
Meanwhile, a new survey has revealed that the average rent in England and Wales has now reached £816 a month, the highest level recorded.
The figures come from the Your Move and Reeds Rains buy to let index which shows that rents have increased by 1.6% between August and September, and 6.3% over the past 12 months.
A director of Reed Rains, Adrian Gill, said: “Rents are rising strongly due to the acceleration in wages and the long-term shortage of rental properties of all tenures.”
Rents are rising fastest in London
Rents are rising fastest in London, they grew by 11.6% in month to September to reach £1,300 a month.
Rents also grew in five out of the 10 regions monitored with landlords in the East of England enjoying an 8.8% increase in rents.
Mr Gill added that the cost of living has now been ‘de-coupled’ from the cost of having a place to live and there's little or no prospect of rent growth slowing.
He also called for reform of the UK's planning system and housing market to bring steady rental inflation for tenants.