We asked over one hundred tenants what changes they would like to see the new Government introduce to offer them better levels of protection. The results were fascinating and thought-provoking. Here are the five most popular answers and our analysis as to whether they are plausible.
Introduce rent caps
The most popular suggestion in all of our discussions with tenants was in relation to a rent cap. Over 25% of the students surveyed would like to see a maximum rent introduced linked to inflation, income or location.
London Mayor Sadiq Kahn has suggested rent capping in London before but it failed to attract much attention in the recent election. However, this is something that has been implemented in other countries. In the German capital, which has recently announced a five-year rent freeze, rents are controlled both within and between tenancies. In New York City, some apartments have their rents capped by a board.
As appealing as rent capping sounds, what couldn’t be agreed between our tenants was how this would be enforced and who would decide what the maximum would be. There are also concerns within the market that it could decrease the number of properties and ultimately the options available for tenants. Henry Pyor, a property expert, thinks rent caps are a bad idea:
“If you impose rent controls it would destabilise the market. There would be a serious withdrawal of rented accommodation.”
Registered Council Licences
One of the tenants survey, Danny, had an interesting suggestion in relation to dealing with rogue landlords and bad tenants. He proposed a new rule where all landlords and tenants have to be registered with the local council, in order to deter any bad behaviour.
He went further to suggest that properties should also be registered and inspected before and after a tenancy to ensure that it is safe and well maintained. Whilst many of our tenants agreed that there needs to be better control of properties and individuals, it was not clear how this would be managed. Councils are already under incredible pressure to manage their own properties and with funding drastically cut in recent years, it is not something that could be rolled out without significant investment.
Whilst we like the motivation behind this suggestion in making processes more transparent, it is unlikely to be introduced by a Conservative Government who do not have any radical plans to increase local funding soon.
This is one for animal lovers! Many of our tenants felt that there shouldn’t be a blanket ban on allowing pets and that deposits should not be increased if they are accepted. Currently, under the Consumer Rights Act (2015), landlords can only refuse for pets to be kept in their property based on reasonable evidence. This would include refusal on the grounds on the animal’s size, the amount of damage it could cause and how this could impact being able to rent out the property in the future.
The Labour party said in 2018 that, if in power, they would introduce a law that would require the landlord to provide evidence that the animal was a nuisance if refused. As far as we can see, this is not something that Boris Johnson will be changing any time soon.
Landlords should repair properties without increasing the rent
This is a bit of a grey area. Whilst the law does require the landlord to be responsible for most major repairs to your home if you rent privately, many of our tenants felt that this was too vague and that it did not go far enough.
Gillian, a tenant, suggested that external agencies should check the state of properties before and during tenancies, holding landlords to account if they fall into disrepair. Again, it was not clear how this would be enforced and who would be overseeing this.
There are plans to extend the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act to force landlords to carry out improvement works to properties or risk being sued. However, we find that many tenants are unsure of their legal rights and are unaware of what their landlord is legally obliged to do to keep their home safe. The solution, therefore, may be better information for tenants as to what the landlord’s legal obligations are, and more accessible ways to challenge this should issues arise.
Better protection of deposits
Deposits were a popular topic amongst tenants. Many felt that they should be transferred from one tenancy to another, with tribunals deciding on any disputes. Whilst there are plans for the Government to introduce ‘lifetime deposits’, there is a lack of clarification as to how disputes will be resolved and how this will help tenants whose deposits have failed to be protected properly.
The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) have expressed concern stating:
“If the introduction of a passporting system is to be viable the government must ensure that both the outgoing landlord’s deposit can be used if needed, whilst the incoming landlord has certainty, they will get the full deposit that they have agreed with the tenant.”
More tenants need to know that if their landlord has failed to protect their deposit into a tenancy deposit scheme, they may be owed compensation.
Having read through over fifty suggestions from tenants all over the UK, we can safely say that more needs to be done. Tenants are not being protected enough and do not know their rights. Whilst we do not have any definitive answers as to what needs to be done and how, change needs to happen and we will continue to have these conversations.
How can ClaimExperts help?
These suggestions are all fantastic and we believe there are some really useful points of discussion. However, while we welcome the idea of opening up a discussion, there are still thousands are UK tenants who are being treated poorly by rogue landlords. If your landlord has failed to protect your deposit into a tenancy deposit scheme, you may be owed compensation.
At ClaimExperts.co.uk, we have a dedicated panel of experts who are used to dealing with landlords, day in, day out. If your deposit has not been protected in one of the three Government-backed tenancy deposit schemes and you do decide to make a claim against your landlord, they are committed to securing the best possible outcome for you and they will keep you up to date in relation to your case, every step of the way.
Your landlord is liable for up to three times the amount of the original deposit.
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