November 7: Generation Rent’s SOS

Councils must be convinced that it is in their interests to pursue rogue landlords.

A DIRECT corollary of the continued rise in house prices and consequent difficulties experienced by many would-be homeowners in terms of getting a foot on the ladder is a return of the buy-to-let bonanza.

This property gold rush has attracted those who view becoming a private landlord as a sound financial investment. In many cases they take the resultant responsibilities to their tenants seriously and treat them with the dignity they deserve.

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Sadly, however, this booming sector has also attracted many individuals who are less than scrupulous. Given the rise in the numbers of people who rent the home they live in it stands to reason that complaints from tenants will be on the rise.

Yet an investigation by this newspaper has found that grievances have climbed at an alarming rate.

Almost all of the local authorities which provided The Yorkshire Post with data following requests made under the Freedom of Information Act, including York, Bradford, York, Wakefield and Leeds have experienced an increase in cases since 2011.

However, far more troubling is the lack of action that follows a complaint being made.

Doncaster, for example, has brought just one prosecution against a landlord in the private housing sector since 2011, despite the fact that this period saw more than 2,500 complaints being made.

Barnsley pursued just one prosecution in the last financial year, which saw 765 formal complaints being submitted.

The problem lies in the time-consuming and costly process that is required to bring rogue landlords to book.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis says the Government has taken steps to provide better protection for tenants but is determined to do more.

It can and it must, starting with a concerted attempt to make cases easier for councils to pursue and allowing them to keep the money generated from successful prosecutions in order to fund future action.

A Christmas wish

Launch of our festive appeal

THE rising incidence of autism should not be cause for despair. Heightened awareness and improved diagnosis provide a welcome source of hope to the families of youngsters who are found to be on the spectrum of this condition.

It means that it is easier to evaluate, for instance, where they will benefit most in terms of the range of help and support that is available.A good example is the work of autism assistance dogs, such as Azerley, who has made such a difference to the life of young Cohen Hadfield.

Following Azerley’s arrival, seven-year-old Cohen, from South Yorkshire, has learnt to play and use his imagination, his confidence has grown and he has even begun to speak and interact with those around him.

However, there are many others who would enjoy similar benefits from a support dog and yet are unable to access this service. The reason for this is that it is provided by a charity, Sheffield-based Support Dogs, which relies on donations..

Having seen the transformative effect a dog like Azerley can have, The Yorkshire Post is pleased to announce that we have chosen Support Dogs as the charity which will benefit from our Christmas Appeal.

The aim is to help another Yorkshire family by raising around £18,000 to fund the training of a support dog, whether it be to help someone suffering from epilepsy, disability, or autism.

We will be unveiling a range of exciting lots to bid for in our traditional auction that will make the perfect unusual Christmas present. We know we can count on your support.

Remember them

An opportunity to give thanks

THERE can be no doubt that last year’s Remembrance Sunday had even greater resonance in the hearts and minds of the public, marking as it did 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War.

Nevertheless, the churches and cenotaphs of Yorkshire will be packed once again tomorrow as the county unites in hushed tribute to those who gave their lives so that we could live in freedom.

The years have not diminished the importance of this act of remembrance – a fact borne out by the criticism aimed this year at those in the public eye who have neglected to wear a poppy.

Such censure is misplaced. After all, many died in order to preserve our right to individual choice. It is a reminder, however, of the seriousness which is attached to events such as Remembrance Sunday.

Rightly so. It is an opportunity to register our gratitude to those who paid the ultimate price for our liberty. An opportunity we should seize.