One in six Bolton homes have failed to meet decent standards, new figures show.

The Government’s English Housing Survey has revealed 3.6 million homes across the country were deemed ‘non-decent’ because they could either pose a risk to residents’ health or life, are in a bad state of repair, are cold or lack modern facilities.

The annual survey asks people at a sample of addresses about the state and quality of their housing.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities figures show 17 per cent of all 121,511 occupied homes in Bolton failed to meet the Government’s official Decent Homes Standard. The rate was higher than the average of 15 per cent across the country.

In Bolton, 24 per cent of private rented homes were deemed non-decent and 11 per cent of all social homes.

The Decent Homes Standards is only applicable to the social sector and therefore Bolton Council can’t enforce landlords in the private sector to make their properties up to the decent homes standard, but Bolton Council do have a legal duty to ensure they are free from category 1 hazards. 

Under a discretionary power Bolton Council also address category 2 hazards.

If a hazard is a serious and immediate risk to a person's health and safety, this is known as a Category 1 hazard. If a hazard is less serious or less urgent, this is known as a Category 2 hazard.

A Bolton Council spokesperson said: “The council is committed to making sure that privately rented homes in Bolton are free from significant hazards.

“Where a landlord has not positively engaged with a tenant following contact letters, the council will arrange for an inspection to take place and a schedule of works drafted.

“In the last two years we have inspected 384 properties and served 337 notices to ensure improvements are made. The council took formal action on landlords of 73 properties.”

Andrew Cardwell, Managing Director at Cardwells Estate Agents said: “A safe, suitable home is one of the foundations of a healthy life and its sad to see that so many properties in our town are falling short of suitable standards. 

“From a Private Rented Sector perspective, the vast majority of landlords are professional people who only want to provide housing that is fit for purpose, and address defects and maintenance matters during tenancies promptly.

“At present there is a Renters Reform Bill which is progressing through Parliament, part of this legislation will mean that landlords will need to provide “Decent” standards of living for tenants.

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“Broadly, this will mean that properties have to be in a reasonable state of repair, have reasonably modern facilities, and provide a reasonable level of thermal comfort.

“These changes will be helpful for responsible tenants and landlords alike and may help bring down the levels unsuitable properties in the medium and long term.”

Overall, across England the proportion of private rented homes found to be in bad condition was twice as high as social housing homes, with 23 per cent compared with 11 per cent.

Across the country, nine per cent of all 23.9 million homes had category 1 hazards observed, which are the most serious hazards. The figure stood at 11 per cent in Bolton.

The English Housing Survey has also found 24 per cent of dwellings built before 1919 contained serious hazards and failed to meet the standards.

David Finch, assistant director in the healthy lives directorate at the Health Foundation, said non-decent homes are putting potentially vulnerable people at significant risk of health problems.

He said: “A decent home is one of the building blocks for living a healthy life, but safety hazards in the home can lead to injury or harm.

“Damp homes can affect respiratory health, leading to asthma, coughing, and wheezing, with cold homes also linked to higher winter deaths.”

A DLUHC spokesperson said: “Our landmark Renters Reform Bill is progressing through Parliament. The Bill will deliver a fairer private rented sector for both responsible tenants and good faith landlords.

“Everyone has the right to a warm, secure and decent home, and we expect landlords to meet our energy efficiency standards before letting properties.

“We are introducing a Decent Homes Standard in the private rented sector for the first time and also bringing in the Social Housing (Regulation) Act, which will deliver significant changes across the sector to ensure landlords are held to account for their performance.”

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