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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

A high number of private renters living in ‘hazardous homes’ – Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice has called for more regulation of the private rented sector after research revealed that hundreds of thousands of tenants in England are living in hazardous homes with problems such as mould or faulty fire alarms.

The charity argues that “weak and confusing” rules are to blame for the fact that so many people are living in unsafe homes.

The study, conducted by ComRes on behalf of Citizens Advice, found that almost one in three tenants surveyed said their property did not have a carbon monoxide alarm despite requiring one, while three-fifths of tenants identified disrepair in their home during the last two years that was not caused by them and that their landlord was responsible for fixing.

Part of the problem is that many landlords do not understand their legal obligations and renters are unaware of their rights, according to the survey.

Citizens Advice is calling for the introduction of a rental watchdog to enforce a “home MOT” and to determine a “fit-and-proper-person” test for landlords.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Too many private renters live in hazardous homes – often with potentially fatal flaws.

“Weak and confusing regulation means landlords can struggle to understand their legal obligations, while tenants find it hard to get problems in their homes resolved.

“The government must establish a national housing body to ensure landlords let property that meet legal standards and gives renters the support they need when they do not.”

But the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has rejected calls by Citizens Advice for a national body to set standards in private rented housing.

David Smith, policy director for the RLA, commented: “There are already well over 150 laws containing 400 regulations affecting the private rented sector. The powers are already there for councils to tackle and root out criminal landlords who cause misery for their tenants.

“What is lacking are both the will and the resources to properly use them.

“We fail to see how establishing a new body of this kind will help to address this.”

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    Mould and damp are usually caused by tenants' life styles, not mopping up after showers, drying clothes indoors, not opening windows or keeping properties adequately heated and ventilated. Faulty fire alarms should be reported, firstly to the landlords and if no luck then to council. Ignoring issues only makes them worse but many tenants do nothing other than moan and landlords get blamed for not fixing things that they know nothing about.

  •  G romit

    "....three-fifths of tenants identified disrepair in their home during the last two years that was not caused by them and that their landlord was responsible for fixing."

    Things go wrong in houses all the time - even in newly built houses, so 3/5 is not unreasonable given Tenants tend not to look after things as well as owner-occupiers.. The real question is how quickly the problem was resolved which does not seem to be the questioned asked (otherwise this would make the headlines, if significant). The fact it isn't a headline means that most problems are being dealt with promptly.

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    Robert Brown,
    Spot on. You are absolutely correct.
    Tenants do not inform LL’s and/or make false allegations to take advantage of the system in the knowledge that laws are in their favour even if they are wrong.
    One of the solution used by my associates is to first get a GDPR disclaimer from the tenant to record them on camera, then keep a video diary of inventory (at the start, periodic checks and end of tenancy) of property conditions of shared & private area fixtures, fittings, furnitures whilst the tenant is clearly in agreement or disputing it on camera that everything is in good order. If anything is disputed, it’s corrected and tenant’s agreement is recorded after fixing the issue/s.
    This video or images can then be presented to CAB/Council/Police/Court in case of tenants complaints, or if anything is found damaged during periodic inspections and tenants refuse to fix it. Although Councils and CAB will still try to find the LL at fault to protect their staffs performance indicators and get more govt funding.
    My associates are currently in process of making complaints to MP and raising awareness about harassing behaviour towards victim LL’s by Chiswick CAB staff.
    LL’s already have to follow a plethora of laws, whereas unscrupulous tenants take advantage of laws favouring tenants, with councils and CAB supporting them.

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    An even higher number of social renters live in hazardous homes.

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    Spot on there and most of them are owned by the council or housing associations, who are exempt from most of the regulations that private landlords have to follow.

     
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    I have a maisonette next to mine which is in an appalling state of disrepair.
    The chap that owns it hasn't carried out any proper maintenance on it for over 20 years.
    Despite being registered with Rent Smart Wales, he hasn't done a thing to address the issues.
    I contacted the council, as the lack of maintenance was beginning to affect my building.
    I had a visit and the official stated that there was nothing they could do.
    Unless the tenants complain then it seems that you are b******d.

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