Two Days Without A Toilet, Three Without A Shower – Tenants Are Stranded Without Essentials

Too many renters are living in uncomfortable homes.
Robin Gentry via Getty Images

It feels like we all know at least a handful of people that have “bad landlord” stories. Some are too invasive, appearing in tenant’s homes without warning or consideration. Others are at the opposite extreme, leaving issues unresolved for weeks, months and even years.

According to data published by Citizens Advice, people in private rented properties are paying at least £350 more a year on energy bills because of poorly insulated and damp homes – with people in the least efficient properties paying an extra £950 a year.

This is not only causing discomfort and frustration among renters but also detrimental health issues, too. According to the NHS, having damp and mould in the home makes people more likely to develop respiratory problems such as infections, allergies or asthma. Damp and mould can also negatively impact the immune system.

We spoke to private renters across the UK about the conditions they live in while paying sky-high energy and rent bills. Here’s what they said.

‘We had a flooded toilet for two days before the landlord got back to us’

Jodie, 27, said: “Our flat doesn’t have a thermostat which means our gas boiler can’t regulate itself. It’s been ‘fixed’ multiple times, but it won’t work until the landlord installs a thermostat – so in three years of living here, we’ve never had hot water from the tap.

“Obviously, we’ve complained (and it’s definitely not legal), but we live in London, so we need to get real about what we have to give up in order to afford living in the city.

“Then, there’s all the usual stuff – mould, poor ventilation, no insulation, a loo that ritually blocks every three months (and once actively spewed). We had a flooded toilet for maybe two days before the landlord got back to us.”

‘I lived with a hole in my ceiling for six months’

Jess, 30, said: “Within two days of moving into my flat, a hole formed in the ceiling. I called the landlord, no response. I then tried to cover the hole with a bin bag but when it rained, the bag came crashing down bringing the rainwater with it.

“Eventually, after six months, my landlord put a piece of wood over the hole. By this point, I was in the habit of just keeping a bucket in the living room to collect the leaks.”

‘My windows freeze on the inside during winter’

Currently, landlords are only required to bring their homes to an E rating and don’t have to make any improvements that cost more than £3,500.

Citizens Advice is calling for this cap to be raised to £10,000 to help people like Clare, 22, who told us “my single-glazed windows freeze on the inside during winter meaning we have to always have the heating on as well as three portable heaters which are very expensive to run”.

‘I’ve gone for three or four days without showering because it costs too much’

David, 31, told us: “Our flat hasn’t been updated in years meaning that running my shower just costs too much so I’ve gone for three, four, days without showering or showering at work when I get the chance to.”

We need energy efficient homes, now

Gillian Cooper, head of energy policy at Citizens Advice, said: “Every week we hear stories of people living in cold, damp and mouldy properties they can’t afford to heat properly.

“It’s shameful that more than 20 years since legislation came into force to reduce fuel poverty and improve the energy performance of homes, people are still suffering. Improving energy efficiency in privately rented homes has never been more urgent.”