Two  tower blocks of flats with a field and with a horse in front.

Data analysis shows shows the scale of health risks in private rented homes in Yorkshire and the Humber and the North West

Today, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove MP, was challenged to give stronger backing to local councils in their efforts to make private landlords comply with housing and health regulations.

Tenants in parts of England can be almost twice as likely to live in housing conditions that do not meet the decent homes standard than tenants in other regions. They also face some of the worst rates of damp and mould.

Yorkshire and the Humber has the worst conditions in England with almost 40 per cent (37.7 per cent) of private rented homes failing to meet the decent homes standard, almost double the latest national figure of 21 per cent in England overall.

The North West of England has the second worst rate with 33 per cent of private rented homes failing to meet the basic level of decency, over ten per cent higher than the latest national figure and more than double the rate in the South East of England (16.2 per cent).

It got to point where there was mould in the house - I have children. The council inspected the home. There was mould, the walls had mould. When it was cold outside the house felt so cold. There were rodents, there was a heating problem. He wasn't going to repair anything until we paid increased rent


A tenant living in Manchester

Tenants in Yorkshire and the Humber also face the worst rates of damp and mould in the country – 23 per cent of private rented homes in the region compared to nine per cent overall. More than one fifth of England’s serious damp problems are in private rented homes in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Unfit housing conditions are a threat to tenants’ health. Damp and mould can worsen asthma, cause heart attacks, cause poor mental health and are particularly harmful for already vulnerable people. The Decent Homes Standard imposes a minimum set of requirements that homes need to meet to ensure they do not harm the health of tenants.

The government’s Renters Reform Bill proposes to extend this standard to private rented homes, however many English local authorities don’t have the resources to conduct inspections of private rented properties. Analysis from the Local Government Association (LGA) suggests that councils in England face a funding gap of £4 billion over the next two years meaning areas such as housing enforcement are at risk of underinvestment. With adequate resourcing, local enforcement teams can conduct more proactive inspections. This would reduce the disproportionate burden on tenants to ask for repairs and the application of housing laws to their home, which can put them at risk of eviction or legal proceedings.

Too many families are living in appalling conditions which seriously impact their health and shorten their lives. People’s Health Trust is calling for the government to implement a clear and properly resourced strategy for housing enforcement which would help support a functioning private rented sector that provides people with the decent homes they need to improve their health and wellbeing.

John Hume

Chief Executive , People’s Health Trust

People’s Health Trust is calling the Secretary of State, Michael Gove MP to introduce stronger housing enforcement measures. These measures could provide sufficient resourcing to enable local authorities to comprehensively carry out their own inspections or provide more tools to allow local authorities to bring in funding to support enforcement locally.

Find out more about our campaign and take action.

Find out more about why housing is a critical building block of health.

Data from English Housing Survey 2022/23, published December 2023.