The UK has a serious problem with cold, draughty and damp homes – in fact, our housing stock is among the least efficient in Western Europe. This problem affects households in all demographics and in all areas, but it is particularly acute in the private rented sector.
In the last year, Citizens Advice helped nearly 17,000 private tenants who were struggling to get their homes maintained and repaired, and from July to September 2014, it provided assistance for 14% more maintenance and repair problems than it did over the same timeframe in 2013.
The charity’s Advice Trends report indicated that one-third of private rented properties in England do not meet Decent Homes standards. Despite this, tenants do not have many rights and can find it difficult to get landlords to repair their homes and bring them up to a liveable standard as they fear eviction.
In one case handled by the charity, a rented property with two young children present had serious damp problems and mould in the cupboards and walls. Their landlord initially refused to pay for the repairs, so the family got in touch with Environmental Health officials.
Eventually, the landlord agreed to pay for anti-mould paint, but not long later, he evicted the family. Citizens Advice has recently seen the number of people facing eviction despite being up-to-date with rent increase by 20%.
Young people disproportionately affected
Under 30s are particularly likely to live in rented accommodation, but they might not have the knowledge and experience needed to tackle some of the problems they face.
Unsurprisingly, Citizens Advice found that young adults are more likely to face difficulties when renting than older people; one-sixth of all people in their 20s who visit Citizens Advice at the moment is seeking assistance with problems relating to a rental property.
Bringing consumer standards for rental home repairs
Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy pointed out that consumers in other markets have the right to receive refunds or to get repairs if the service or product they pay for does not meet expectations, but there is “comparatively little regulation” in the private rented sector.
People can find it hard to live a normal life if their household is in a state of repair and if they fear eviction, she argued.
Highlighting the fact that one-fifth of people privately rent their home, Ms Guy called for “urgent action” in order to bring tenants’ rights up to a “21st century standard”.
On Friday November 28th, Parliament will debate a Tenancies Reform Bill, which would prevent ‘retaliatory evictions’. Ms Guy said she hopes MPs back this bill.
Are you finding it hard to keep your tenants’ homes up-to-scratch? Citizens Advice might argue that tenants’ rights are lacking, but landlords are legally obliged to keep their property portfolio safe and habitable, and must arrange annual boiler services, electrical repairs, plumbing and drainage repairs, carbon monoxide tests and a huge range of other tasks in order to do so.
If you want to provide the best possible service to your tenants, budget your repair bills on a month-by-month basis, and get someone else to handle the stress of keeping rental properties at a decent standard, then we at 247 Home Rescue would love to help you out! Give us a call on 0345 3192 247 to get a bespoke quote for your home.