In a recent report from Citizens Advice, it has been revealed that 1.85 million households (41% – or approximately 2 in 5 private renters) over the past 4 years have waited longer than they should for their landlord to carry out a repair.
Private renters are worried that reporting issues with their home, or pressing their landlord to carry out repairs, will result in eviction.
<p style="text-align:center;"> <img title="1.85 Million Households Avoid Contacting Their Landlords About Repairs - infographic" src="https://ashburnham-insurance.co.uk/wordpress/media/why-do-tenants-avoid-their-landlords-infographic.png" alt="1.85 Million Households Avoid Contacting Their Landlords About Repairs - infographic" /> Infographic by <a title="Ashburnham Insurance Services" href="https://www.ashburnham-insurance.co.uk">Ashburnham Insurance</a></p>
Private landlords are legally responsible for fixing problems in a reasonable amount of time, and a court can order a landlord to carry out the repair if the tenant has had to wait longer than what the court deems “reasonable”. One would think then that the tenant has all the power in this situation, but most are too concerned that there is far greater risk in pushing the issue than resolving it.
In a YouGov survey of 762 private tenants in England, it was uncovered that 51% of renters were worried that their landlord may decide to increase their rent if they continued complaining. Nearly 3 in 5 (57%) who are eligible for compensation admitted that they did not want to force the issue for fear of being evicted.
Only 1% of those who could get compensation ever take their case to court. Instead, nearly a third (30%) choose to carry out the repairs themselves with 14% paying out of their own pocket. According to Citizens Advice, one family had spent an eye-watering £10,000 of their own savings to fix issues in their home.
Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, has said:
Renters should be able to ask for repairs to their homes without fear of retaliation.
Homes in poor condition are the most common private rented sector issue people turn to Citizens Advice for help with. Issues such as broken fittings, faulty electricals or leaks can make life hard for renters and can even lead to ill health. But renters aren’t pursuing their rights to repair because they are worried their landlord will put up their rent or evict them. To add to this, formal routes to redress aren’t being used either because they’re too difficult and expensive.
Rent is the most expensive costs households face, but protections for renters simply don’t reflect this. The new government needs to make it easier for people to have their rights enforced when their home is in poor condition. The redress process also needs to give renters protection from retaliatory action, so they feel confident reporting a problem in their home and don’t feel like their only option is to dip into their own pocket.
Citizens Advice helped more than 16,000 people in the last year facing problems with their privately rented home being in poor condition.
For landlords, there is reason to be alarmed. Having faults and issues with the property shouldn’t go ignored – not just for your tenants’ sake but for the value of your property too! Dealing with problems early can prevent further damage along the line, which may end up costing you more or even permanently damaging your property unnecessarily. Establishing an honest relationship with your tenant will allow them to feel more comfortable with reporting these issues early on, and fixing them enforces mutual respect.