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Tenants afraid to complain about conditions, claims academic study

A new study by a university suggests that some tenants are apparently afraid to speak out about the condition of the property for fear of being evicted.

The study is led by the University of Glasgow on behalf of the  UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence: it has been co-funded by the TDS Charitable Foundation and the SafeDeposits Charitable Trust.

It involved interviews with just 53 tenants from across the UK in March 2021.


Author Dr McKee, senior lecturer in social policy and housing at the University of Stirling, says: "The relationship between the tenant and their landlord is particularly important. Yet it was not always easy for tenants to speak up and raise their concerns, especially for those on the lowest incomes who had limited alternative housing options available to them.”

Some participants spoke positively about their landlord and/or letting agent, highlighting their responsiveness, flexibility, and good communication.

Others claimed that managing this relationship was challenging and had negative impacts on their wellbeing; some tenants taking part in the study said they would refrain from asking landlords to carry out repairs or upgrades because of a fear of possibly putting the tenancy at risk if, for instance, the landlord was perceived to lack the necessary funds to carry out the repairs. 

Some tenants worried about their ability to remain in an area or neighbourhood and made pragmatic trade-offs – they were willing to accept poorer quality properties that detrimentally impacted their health and wellbeing in order to access a particular location for convenience to social networks, employment, schools and childcare.

In addition, the study found that older renters were particularly concerned about their ability to rely on the private rented sector over time.



Another author - Dr Harris, senior research associate at the University of Bristol - adds: "These findings show that satisfaction statistics alone do not provide an adequate measure of wellbeing or how well the sector is operating. Some people may report being satisfied because their last housing situation was significantly worse, or because they don’t expect to achieve any better." 

Steve Harriott from the TDS Charitable Foundation comments: "This is a fascinating piece of qualitative research which provides insight into what tenants think about living in the private rented sector”. 

Want to comment on this story? If so...if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.

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    Rent decent properties to decent working tenants, lower income tenants are best left to councils to house, and we've all seen the standard of council and housing assoc housing stock recently haven't we.

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    I object to that comment Andrew.
    I personally know well, a very well educated female who rents a private property in an expensive area of South Surrey where she has lived for 13 years. About 5 years ago her finances changed when she retired and she has her rent and CT paid by the local authority. It's a spacious 2 storey 1 bed flat with separate kitchen, sitting, bed and bathroom plus utility room and small garden.
    The rent is 800pm and has risen incrementally from 625 over the years.
    Her credit file is excellent, 695/710 having never delayed or missed any payments to any payee.
    I know this as I helped her deal with the loss of her home through divorce.
    Not all low income tenants are beyond the pale and undeserving of good/decent accomodation as you seem to suggest.
    That's a very condescending attitude.


    Made your friend is an exception to the norm, there are a few, but not many in my experience.



    As Andrew says, the exception proves the rule.

    As a policy I have never let to benefits claimants. I had one previously OK tenant who went off the rails, lost his job and family and eventually had to be evicted.
    My only eviction out of over 300 tenants and my only benefit claimant.

    I won't give another the benefit of the doubt ever again as I was left thousands out of pocket and suffered nearly a year of severe stress in dealing with the whole episode.

    His mother was his guarantor and she had to take in his three children when he lost his job and stopped providing for them. The council social work department pleaded with me not to pursue the mother to honour the guarantee. I didn't pursue her but feel I have earned the right to refuse future benefits claimants and to ask anyone to leave as soon as they start to accrue rent arrears.

    Incidentally I have we'll over 20 Glasgow students as tenants and have had for around 20 years. I have never found them afraid to complain but I do encourage them to report small problems before they become big problems.


    Robert makes a good point, the only tenants I have ever had to evict in 30 yrs also have been benefit claimants, I've never had to evicted a working tenant.

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    Well I can see all sorts of different situations. However if you come to retirement and not be financially secure even though you had every chance been well educated, something wrong there, on the other hand if Council is paying for the rent and c/tax why would there be any reason for not paying I would be a model Tenant too.

  • Theodor Cable

    Andrew - Same here after 25 years of rentals.
    Only 2 evictions and they were both from the Council.

    (Stupid, stupid me).

    And I kick myself for even considering the second lot.

    Wrecked a kitchen and were frankly filthy.....Literally filthy. A ruined brand new carpet in the whole house.

    It was about £15,000+++++ to correct all the damage and smells. They even took the loft lagging can you believe?


    Oh yes I can well believe that !


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