Research from housing charity Shelter estimated that 125,000 tenants had experienced abuse with helpline operators taking calls from renters whose landlords had cut off utilities and entered their homes without permission.
The charity said it had taken 17,000 calls in one year from tenants having problems with their landlord.
Generation Rent blamed increasing pressures on council budgets for small numbers of prosecutions in areas such as Barnsley, which pursued just one prosecution in the last financial year, which saw 765 formal complaints submitted by or on behalf of tenants in the private rented sector - up from 506 in 2011/2012.
Coun Jenny Platts, Barnsley Council’s spokeswoman for communities, said: “As with any provision the level of service varies with some excellent landlords providing good quality accommodation to some which are less so. The main issues tend to relate to absent landlords – those who own property which they let, but don’t themselves live in the borough and or visit on a regular basis. The council is proactively working with landlords to promote the provision of good quality accommodation, plus agree a range of actions for those who do not comply.”
Richard Lambert, chief executive officer at the National Landlords Association (NLA) told The Yorkshire Post, only a “tiny minority” of landlords are exploiting renters.
He said: “The NLA would like to see more being done to crack down on those who exploit tenants and give landlords a bad name. However, prosecutions are time-consuming and expensive and the relatively small number of landlord prosecutions brought by local councils suggests that they do not have the capacity to respond to the need as the private-rented sector grows.”
Today’s investigation will add weight to the campaign pressing the Government to allow councils to keep money generation from successful prosecution, backed by Generation Rent and the NLA.
Earlier this year The Yorkshire Post reported how housing associations in Yorkshire and the Humber average the second highest number of tenants affected by the Bedroom Tax, second only to the North East of England.