New Committee report out saying tenants needed more protection

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has released a report today saying that the “most vulnerable tenants need greater legal protections from retaliatory evictions, rent increases and harassment so they are fully empowered to pursue complaints about repairs and maintenance in their homes.”

This report on the private rented sector found that many properties were sub-standard, calling on the Government to address the ‘clear power imbalance’, with

tenants often unwilling to complain to landlords about conditions in their homes such as excess cold, mould or faulty wiring.

I am appalled that this has gone on for so many years, and I welcome the report’s recommendations:

  • Tenants need greater legal protections from retaliatory eviction, rent increases and harassment. For example, the Deregulation Act could be strengthened to give greater protections to tenants after they make a complaint about conditions in their homes.
  • The establishment of a new fund to support local authorities to undertake informal enforcement activities.
  • The introduction of new ways of informing tenants and landlords of their rights and responsibilities.
  • A requirement for local authorities to publish their enforcement strategies online.
  • A review of legislation relating to the private rented sector aimed at bringing more clarity for tenants, landlords and local authorities.

It is as we protect the most vulnerable in our society that we strengthen the fabric which sustains our communities. We have good policy in this area, and I hope we can push Government to adopt these recommendations.

* Kirsten Johnson is the PPC for North Devon and Day Editor of Lib Dem Voice.

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7 Comments

  • William Fowler 20th Apr '18 - 7:14am

    As someone who has rented out his house when abroad I would have welcomed longer tenancies as long as it is balanced by ease of eviction for non-payment of rent (luckily never happened to me), it would be a disaster for many small landlords if tenants were able to have 24 month tenancies and could not be removed until the end of it if they did not pay their rent. Generally, UK rental market is a disgrace, and has been for decades, with private rents two to three times higher than justified whilst buy-to-let landlords have ruined whole areas. Must be very depressing for younger people, sign up for a 30 year mortgage and be ground down by work or hand over half your wages to some spiv landlord… but nothing new about it.

  • Peter Martin 20th Apr '18 - 7:40am

    Many landlords now insist that tenants produce a personal guarantor who has a home and a steady job. They can be a big problem for anyone who doesn’t know anyone or can’t find anyone willing to make that guarantee.

    Agents can be ultra inflexible on points like this as I discovered for myself when I was looking to rent somewhere for just six months recently. My wife and I had returned to the UK and were ‘between houses’. I didn’t have a job but I wasn’t unemployed. I wasn’t in receipt of any state benefits. I just didn’t fit the design of the form the agents had come up with. So in the end I agreed to pay the six months rent up front – but guess what? The form still said I had to find a guarantor! I did suggest guaranteeing myself as I still owned a house in Australia. The young lady filling in the form didn’t seem to appreciate my attempt at ironic humour. Luckily for me that wasn’t too difficult – but it did leave me wondering just how young people have to cope with all this.

    Of course, no pets were allowed which was a big problem for us as we have a dog! After keeping her hidden for a while when the landlord was about, I decided to ‘fess up’ after I had built up a good personal relationship with him and he just laughed. So we were lucky. It did mean, though, I was somewhat reluctant to complain that half the lights didn’t work and the heating seemed to have a mind of its own about whether it would or wouldn’t work.

    The other thing I noticed was the attitude of the estate agent staff. They were quite rude and abrupt when dealing with me as a tenant – but that all changed when they found out I was in the market to buy somewhere. Then, they were as nice as they possibly could be. I’m happy to report that, when we did buy, it wasn’t through them!

  • Martin Walker 20th Apr '18 - 9:26am

    I’d rather the report had gone further and called for mandatory licencing of landlords, which seems to me to be the best way to address landlord behaviour within the constraints of the current housing market.

  • Important to keep a sense of balance here. There are good and bad on both sides of the rental market. In general a Landlord want his tenants to treat his property with respect and receive his rent on time. A Tenant wants a property that is warm, clean, dry, safe and fit for purpose. Simples. I’ve seen landlords cry at the state that their property has been left in by a tenant. The law doesn’t help and need overhauling. It’s a patchwork of fixes to poor law in the first place exposed by legal aid cases (superstrike).
    When it comes to Mould I’m afraid that in 90% of instances it is tenant induced. Damp is rising, penetrating or condensate. 90% is condensate. it is worse for the poorer end because this type of tenant tends to have a higher duty cycle of occupancy. The average person actually pumps out a litre of water into the atmosphere every day not to mention drying washing on the radiators, etc. If they are concerned about the heating bill they close all the windows to keep the heat in. This also keeps the moisture in. You can’t destroy matter. It goes somewhere. in the case of water vapour it finds a cold spot to condense on. if there is a growth medium, mould will take root. My pet hate is papered ceilings. The paper is a perfect growth medium. Which brings us onto the next problem. Landlord paper walls and ceiling to cover up dilapidations. Unfortunately a great deal of the housing stock should have been demolished/rebuilt 50 years ago but the housing market is another story. There are no simple fixes.
    If you want to know where the balance is at the moment then look at the number of landlords who are selling up. Be careful what you wish for.

  • I’m in agreement with PJ here.

    What is concerning about this report is much of the ‘evidence’ has not been independently assessed. Hence what is to someone is a “house full of mould and damp”, or “[a] hole in [the] external wall straight into the kitchen” may actually be something else altogether – in the case of the hole, it may simply be an airbrick installed in accordance with gas regulations [Aside: I had great fun in one house in installing an air brick that gave the mandated airflow whilst baffling it so that it didn’t produce a draught, or whistle when the wind blew.]

    To me, and from my experience, I suggest the biggest improvement would be to provide funding to enable local authorities to perform a meaningful level of ‘random’ inspections and follow-up.

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