Private tenants across the UK are ‘coughing up’ more than £1bn every year on repairs that landlords should be paying for themselves according to a new survey.
The report found that renters had on average throughout the year spent £217 on repairs that their landlords should have carried out. The most common repairs were for boiler repairs – 37%, baths/showers – 29% and toilets -26%.
The research also uncovered that many tenants do not find their landlords completely trustworthy and more disturbingly 1% of renters stated that they had discovered hidden cameras in their residence. Just over one in five of tenants (21%), claim that they have an awful relationship with their landlord who has caused them severe stress levels or physical health issues.
The research, carried out by a serviced apartment ‘start-up’ has also found that 10% of renters have been left in the lurch for more than three months for relatively routine maintenance jobs to be carried out and 20% have had to wait more than a month. The English Housing Survey‘s figures show that 27% of let homes did not meet the required minimum decent homes standard in 2016; 8% of privately rented homes had various damp issues.
This year councils were given greater powers to tackle ‘rogue’ landlords for housing offences and are now able to levy fines of up to £30,000 for offences such as non compliancy of an improvement notice or failure to obtain a licence.
Magistrates have not been given strict guidelines when sentencing for housing offences, and at times they have been swayed on how much landlords have to pay if they claim they cannot afford to pay a high fine, irrespective of the harmful effect on tenants or how serious the offence was.
The LGA (Local Government Association) which looks after the interests of 370 English and Welsh councils, have long campaigned for the higher fines as they argue it will curtail the number of unfit rented homes and fire safety breaches and this should help provide some assistance for a consistency in magistrates’ rulings.
Councillor Martin Tett, LGA housing spokesman, said: “The majority of landlords are decent, responsible law-abiding citizens who do a great job in making sure their tenants are living in safe and quality housing. Unfortunately there is a minority of rogue landlords who give those good landlords a bad name.
“Councils want to work with landlords, not against them. But with more young people and families renting privately than ever before, we need to see reforms that will maintain and improve housing standards.
“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.
“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.
“Landlord licensing schemes allow landlords to demonstrate that they are responsible and adhere to ensuring homes are maintained to a high standard. It also protects and provides reassurance to tenants that they are living in a decent, safe and secure home.”