Industry news

Generation Rent in the dark over their tenancy rights


ew research among more than 2,000 adults by the on-line letting agency LetBritain, has revealed that huge

numbers of tenants and landlords across the country are unaware of the laws governing the private rental sector. Among its findings, researchers found:

• 37 per cent of tenants and 16 per cent of landlords do not know that renters must be given at least two months’ notice if a landlord wishes to evict them;

• A third of all people in rented accommodation – 34 per cent, do not realise they have the right for their deposits to be placed in a Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme. Somewhat worryingly 12 per cent of landlords were also unaware of this rule;

• Even more renters (43 per cent) and landlords (19 per cent) have no idea that tenants can challenge any excessive charges made by a landlord, via an ombudsman.

Similarly, more than a quarter (28 per cent) of tenants did not know a landlord should provide 24 hours’ notice before entering their property, while over a third (34 per cent) were unaware that a landlord must provide an Energy Performance Certificate. A half of all tenants did not know that the rent

charged by a landlord should be comparable to rents for similar properties in the area or that it can be challenged. Some 27 per cent of landlords also did not know this right. LetBritain commissioned an independent,

nationally-representative survey among more than 2,000 UK adults. Their report comes as

figures show that 29 per cent of UK renters lose their deposits every year, at an average cost of £825 each. Furthermore, the number of privately rented households is due to increase from its current level of 5.4 million to 7.2 million by 2021.

IGNORANCE Worryingly, LetBritain’s research also revealed that thousands of the UK’s landlords are unaware of vital pieces of legislation. For example: 16 per cent of landlords did not know they must give at least two months’ notice under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 if they want to evict a tenant – that equates to 426,000 landlords in the dark about this fact. Similarly, 12 per cent did not know they must

provide 24 hours’ notice before entering the property, while 14 per cent did not realise it is their responsibility to arrange and pay for any repairs to the exterior of a property. Fareed Nabir, Chief Executive of LetBritain,

commented: “Today’s research delivers some really important findings. It is clear that a huge proportion of UK renters – a population growing in size – do not truly understand the legislation and regulation in place to protect them. “Likewise, a concerning number of

landlords are also in the dark about exactly what rights and responsibilities they have. Such a lack of awareness increases the risk of renters and landlords being exploited – it must be addressed and lettings agents certainly have a duty to better inform all their customers about the vital legislative framework governing the rental sector.”

Unregistered gas fitter given prison sentence over unsafe work

A self-employed fitter has been jailed after carrying out gas work that endangered a young family-of-four. Cardiff Magistrates’ Court heard that

Eric Parry, trading as EHP Building Services, removed pipework that supplied gas to a cooking hob at a family home in Rhoose, South Wales without sealing the end of the pipe to ensure it was in a safe condition. Gas Safe Register who inspected his work classed it as ‘Immediately Dangerous’. An investigation by the Health and Safety

Executive (HSE) found that Eric Parry completed this work in May 2016, despite having previously

been served a Prohibition Notice in 2011 for unregistered gas work. Parry of Parc Bryn Derwen, Pontyclun pleaded

guilty to breaching Sections 3 (2) and 22 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and breaching Regulations 3(1), 3(3) and 6(2) of the Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations 1998. He was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay costs of £1,788.38. Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector

Gethyn Jones said: “Eric Parry undertook gas work which he knew he was not registered to do and as a result he endangered a mother, father and their four-year-old twins.

Ombudsman slams councils as homelessness rises again

The Local Government Ombudsman has issued a damning report of the way councils in England are dealing with families who have lost their homes, as official figures show over 79,000 households placed in temporary accommodation. Families are being placed for too long in

unsuitable accommodation that is often damp or suffering from infestations and this is adversely affecting their physical and mental health. In 70 per cent of its investigations the Ombudsman finds fault with councils in homelessness cases, far higher than in other areas where complaints are made to it about council services. In his report ‘Still No Place Like Home’, Michael

King says people from professions such as nursing are finding themselves being evicted from private sector tenancies. They are turning to local authorities for help and in too many cases they are being badly treated and not told of their rights to demand reviews of decisions. The Ombudsman produced a similar report four

years ago and says it is deeply worrying that so many of the problems identified then are persisting today. Problems found mainly in London in 2013 are now being found across large parts of the South East. The latest Government figures show that local

authorities accepted 15,290 households as homeless from July to September, and the number of households in temporary accommodation rose to 79,190 – both are up six per cent. More than 6,400 families are in bed and breakfast hotels. Back in December 2010 there were 48,010 households in temporary accommodation. Meanwhile, local authorities took action to

prevent and relieve homelessness for 52,190 households between July and September, down one per cent on 52,880 in the same quarter of 2016. Councils will soon have to undertake more

preventative work to avoid families becoming homeless with charities and housing chiefs concerned about a shortage of suitable accommodation for those losing their homes. Evictions from private sector tenancies are seen as the biggest cause of problems although the roll-out of Universal Credit is also seeing more social landlords taking a harder approach to tenants in rent arrears. The Ombudsman criticises councils for acting

unlawfully by placing homeless households in bed and breakfast accommodation for lengthy periods of time, beyond the legal limit of six weeks. Some families were having to endure stays of over two years. The report gives best practice guidance to help

councils get things right, as well as suggesting a number of questions that councillors can ask to ensure they challenge their own authorities over the number of families left in unsuitable accommodation for too long. | HMM January 2018 | 13

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