With demand for rental accommodation having soared by 40% in the past five years, the number of private sector tenants is growing fast. Renting is quickly becoming the norm for those in their 20s and 30s and, as the sector expands, the landlords operating within it are urged to provide the best possible accommodation and service for their customers.
Despite this, recent research from Shelter claims that tenants still feel powerless when it comes to complaining about their homes. The survey revealed that 16% of respondents had issues with their landlord in the past 10 years, and many of these struggled to confront their landlords over problems. Earlier this month Channel 4 also aired a Dispatches programme exposing Britain’s worst landlords. This uncovered some shocking treatment of tenants and investigated a range of underhand letting tactics including dangerous and squalid rental properties.So what can you do to avoid finding yourself in a rental nightmare?As a tenant it is important to take steps to ensure you protect your position. Regulations such as, tenant deposit protection schemes, and houses in multiple occupation laws, are designed to protect tenants but you can also proactively avoid bad landlords by sticking to a few simple guidelines yourself:
- Work with a trusted letting agent – agents who are affiliated with bodies such as ARLA or the Property Ombudsman will ensure the landlords they work with are reputable
- Know your rights – tenants are strongly protected so read up on the laws surrounding rental agreements
- Get insured – with specialist tenant insurance you are able to protect your possessions, your personal position and any damage caused to your landlord’s property whilst you are living in it
- Be confident – You are the landlord’s customer,. If you are not satisfied with the product or service they are providing, seek advice from your letting agent or the citizens advice bureau
Although the findings from Shelter ring some alarm bells, they also highlight the fact that the vast majority of tenants (84%) have not had any issues with their landlords. This proves that landlords today realise the importance of the service they provide and in the majority of cases, are committed to providing good quality, comfortable properties that tenants can call home.