Errors in English Private Landlords Survey and English Housing SurveyMake Text Bigger
I have sent the following email to the firstname.lastname@example.org and also my MP along with the current Housing Secretary and Housing Minister
Please can anyone who is able please also send this, or something like it to their MP and generally try to highlight the problem with the survey questionnaires. Email content follows:
I am writing to highlight a problem with the way that data is being collected (and subsequently mis-reported in the Media) for the English Housing Surveys and English Private Landlord Surveys. To try and explain as briefly as possible:
EPLS 2018 records that:
Only 0.4% of landlords and their agents report having not carried out a gas safety check for their most recent letting. Whilst it is disappointing that any landlord or agent has not not met the requirement, this is a fairly low number and means that 99.6% of landlords and their agents may be in full compliance with his requirement.
However, all the commentary from Shelter and Citizens Advice, Generation Rent, The Guardian, all (remarkably, unchallenged by the Landlord Associations) has combined the other 2 possible response options in the questionnaire to produce an alleged failure of compliance at a much higher level. In some cases alleged ‘non compliance’ is quoted as being 25% on the gas safety check point alone – and similar errors are repeated throughout all the claims of non compliance across all the various checks required of private landlords.
There is no evidence for these claims of higher non compliance from these surveys.
To try and explain in more detail:
The questionnaires relating to many of the compliance / standards issues generally have options for ‘Yes’ – ‘No’ – or, for anything else, a single box: ‘Don’t Know / Not Applicable’
‘Don’t Know’ and ‘Not Applicable’ are two very different things. This gives rise to the false results.
The questions asking whether a gas safety inspection has been carried out at a property have these 3 choices of answer.
The only box you can fill in for a property with No Gas – is the ‘Don’t Know / Not Applicable’.
This gives rise to completely misleading data as the ‘No’, and ‘Don’t Know / Not Applicable’ results are then used to purport to show that a significant percentage of properties that should have had a gas safety inspection, have not had one carried out – but in fact the overwhelming majority (maybe all) of the ‘Don’t Know / Not Applicable’ answers will be because the property has no gas.
Around 20% of Private Rented Properties have No Gas Supply and so do not need a gas safety inspection and so the distortion to the results is likely to be very high. This type of error is repeated across many of the compliance / standards questions, leading to misleading and incorrect claims being made in the Media and by Campaign Groups.
Surely we want the English Housing Survey and English Private Landlord Survey to give an accurate picture of the facts?
For this to be possible, ‘Not Applicable’ and ‘Don’t Know’ need to be separate answer choices.
Please can you give urgent thought to amending the way these questions are asked.
I would be grateful for your response on this.
See P15 to 16 of the Survey Questionnaire by following this link:
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