Tenants are spending more than £1billion of their own money every year on repairs that landlords should have carried out, new figures suggest

‘Generation rent’ as the current group of twenty-somethings have been branded are not just suffering at the hands of high fees, but also exploitative landlords making them pay extra to live out of squalor.

That’s according to a new report that’s found people living in Britain’s five million privately rented properties are collectively shelling out more than a billion pounds a year on repairs and damages that should be dealt with by their landlord.

That’s £217 a year, which could be better saved elsewhere, an investigation by property website Uncle found.

The research also found two million households have never had a landlord they could completely trust – with 1 in 100 claiming they’ve found hidden cameras in their home.

Worryingly, one in 10 claim their landlords have been so negligent, that their lives have been endangered. A further 7% say difficulties with landlords have affected their own relationship with partners.

And when it comes to landlords sorting out the job, of those that will address it, one in 10 tenants have been made to wait more than three months to get ‘routine’ jobs done while one in five have waited more than a month.

New rules to fine the law breakers

The figures come just weeks after the Government issued an investigation into increasing fines for landlords who break the rules.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said landlords in England who commit housing offences should be fined a minimum of £30,000 by magistrates to help drive up standards in the private rental sector.

It followed English Housing Survey figures that found 27% of privately rented homes failed to meet decent homes standards in 2016 and 8% of properties had damp problems.

At present, councils can enforce fines of up to £30,000 on private landlords for offences such as not complying with an improvement notice.

But the LGA said there should be more consistency across the courts, with common sentencing guidelines.

What to do if you’re being charged for repairs that aren’t your fault

Your landlord’s responsibilities include:

  • the structure and exterior of the building, including the walls, stairs and bannisters, roof, external doors and windows
  • sinks, baths, toilets, pipes and drains
  • heating and hot water
  • chimneys and ventilation
  • gas appliances
  • electrical wiring

Your landlord should also make sure that your home is free from any hazards – such as mould, wiring and electricals, gas safety and fire alarms. This is despite what the tenancy agreement claims.

As a rule of thumb, tenants must make sure they a) keep the property clean, b) tell their landlord about any damage they cause, c) replace spoke alarm batteries and maintain minor maintenance checks and d) avoid blocking hazardous zones.

Councillor Martin Tett, LGA housing spokesman, said: “A key deterrent to rogue landlords would be for the Government to set common sentencing guidelines which delivers consistency across the courts.

“It is not right that the level of civil penalty could outweigh that which is handed out by magistrates.”

He continued: “Many councils are already tackling issues in the private rental sector by bringing in landlord licensing schemes.

“But they are limited in how widely these can be introduced. We need to see these rules relaxed and councils given more freedom and flexibility in establishing schemes.”

A new solution?

Rental start-up website Uncle is now pledging to shake up the rental market by offering a ‘no nonsense approach’ for renters who are tired of hard-to-reach landlords and being treated like second-class citizens.

The firm’s apartments provide resident managers who are on hand 24/7 and available to help with viewings, key collections, repairs and even deliveries.

They’ll even give back a day’s rent if typical issues aren’t fixed within 48 hours.

Ryan Prince, founder of Uncle said: “For too long, dodgy landlords have had all the power. Our findings show there is a clear need for change in the UK. We’re not living in feudal times any more and here at Uncle, we believe people deserve better.”

How to deal with a difficult landlord

Here are Shelter’s top tips for renters with landlord problems:

  • Get in touch with your landlord and let them know what the issue is. Make sure you are clear about the facts and what you want to happen.
  • Find out what you need to do to resolve your problem. Shelter’s website www.shelter.org.uk/advice and free housing helpline 0808 800 4444 can let you know what your rights are.
  • Be persistent. You might need to get back in touch with your landlord. Explain what you will do if the situation does not improve and describe how the problem is affecting you. Make sure you always stay polite and reasonable.
  • If you cannot resolve the issue with your landlord, take your complaint to the next level. Make sure you see the process through.
  • A good relationship with your landlord is important and you will be able to work through problems better if you build trust and co-operation.

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