A large number of landlords are breaking the law – and tenants are failing to recognise when their landlord is committing an ‘illegal act’, according to a new study.

The news comes after market researchers YouGov and homelessness charity Shelter teamed up to carry out a comprehensive study of landlord-tenant trends in London and the South East of England.

Their research found that as many as one in ten private renters had fallen victim to ‘illegal acts’ committed by their landlord.

An astonishing 20,000 private renters said that they had been ‘harassed’ or ‘threatened’ by their landlord on at least one occasion.

A further 74,000 added that their home had been entered by a landlord without obtaining prior permission or giving notice.

An additional 2,500 said that their landlord had cut off their utilities without obtaining tenant consent.

Commenting on the survey, Shelter’s Danielle Goodwin said: “Too many people simply don’t know their rights as a renter.

“Every day at Shelter we speak to people at the end of their tether after a law-breaking landlord has caused chaos in their lives.

“These range from instances where the renter has been unaware of their rights, to cases where renters are exploited and subjected to terrible experiences by a minority of law breaking landlords”.

The survey findings highlight the importance of knowing your rights as a private renter. Those who are unsure, or are facing a landlord-tenant dispute, are advised to contact legal professionals for specialist advice.