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families in private, rented homes

(89 Posts)

following several threads this week on "am I being unreasonable" regarding disputes between tenants and landlords please could Mumsnet HQ consider a campaign to protect the interests of families in the "squeezed middle" who are renting long-term in the private sector?
I'd particularly like to see some regulation of agents fees, the availability of long term contracts, (indefinate, with a minimum of 2 years where tenants should feel at liberty to decorate (but not make structural changes) with a three month notice period. A reasonable shedule of landlord inspections... Personally I'd be quite happy for landlords to have more powers to swiftly evict tenants that do not pay rent promptly...anyone like to suggest additions?

stubbornstains Wed 08-Aug-12 21:05:46

Interesting post radar. I guess that chimes with suggestions upthread that tenancies be made more secure- yet LLs be given more powers to evict problem tenants.

Personally, I would call for landlords discriminating against Housing Benefit recipients to be made illegal. Receiving Housing Benefit is no indicator of being a bad tenant, or of failing to pay the rent- in fact, I would say that it makes it rather more likely that a tenant will pay regularly, as jobs can always be lost. I have heard, on these threads, that LLs are sometimes reluctant to let to HB recipients as their mortgage/ insurance prohibits it- that should DEFINITELY be outlawed!

I would also call for an end to LLs refusing to consider families with children for their properties. OK, I can understand their point if they specify that they don't want smokers, or pets, but with a significant proportion of the rental stock effectively barred to families, there is a lot of misery going on at the moment (as many threads on MN will testify).

Gatorade Wed 08-Aug-12 21:19:59

I have to admit, rightly or wrongly after a couple of bad experiences I no longer like to accept tenants in receipt of housing benefit stubborn. As you mention a person can lose their job, but often they can then cover rent with savings etc (I know that a lot of housing benefit claimants also have jobs, but given the fact that they are receiving housing benefit they are unlikely to have significant savings to cover the bad times).

Maybe a few bad tenants (who happen to be receiving housing benefit) have spoiled it for others. I had one tenant who wanted me to evict them as they needed to be homeless to try to get re-homed in a larger property, it ended up being a real mess and I have since moved away from wanting to invest in properties that attract those on housing benefit alongside other tenants as I don't want to be put in a position of having to discriminate.

goingundertheradar Wed 08-Aug-12 21:28:33

Hmmm I see your point but I think a lot of the problem with hb tenants is with the council- delays and reapplications can cause a huge amount of stress on an indivdual landlord.

I used to work for a large corporation that dealt with hb tenants throughout the country. Some councils were so bad that we used to allow tenants to get up to 4 /5 months in arrears before doing anything as we knew they would end up paying and usually it would be just before the hearing. The landlord would lose the ground 8 possession and be left with a bill for our fees - very frustrating for all as the tenant had often done nothing or little (sending forms back late for eg.) wrong.

Ime things are just about right - a reasonable balance of being able to seek possession when there is a need within the fixed term and an ability to recover the property when the landlord might need it. Thats why I say rent from a corporate for longer security.

Most of my landlords will retain a good tenant and in the current market bad or problematic tenants will struggle as there are usually plenty waiting.

The reality is that a 6 month agreement is never that short. Even accelerated proceedings can take 3/4 months after the notice is served.

I accept that this does not provide long term security for tenants and perhaps the answer is incentives to landlords for a new type of tenancy. Something like the original assureds - although I believe that very few individual landlords would accept that.

goingundertheradar Wed 08-Aug-12 21:31:27

Sorry that was to stubborn

Gatorade - councils advising tenants to wait till eviction are the Bain on my landlords lives. IMO that is what is so wrong with the rental set up. Situations where both landlord and tenant want the tenancy to end but court action is required due to the council wishing to save a few months !!

Chocoholiday Wed 08-Aug-12 21:52:51

My main beef is with estate agents - we've met so many lately who try to charge ridiculous fees for absolutely nothing, and use manipulative tactics to make you put down a holding deposit after looking at a place for about 10 minutes. We had given notice on our current place and were getting increasingly desperate to find somewhere new, so put down £300 on a house there and then, using a card, because the agent said her colleague had someone else who was about to put down a holding deposit. She gave us no terms and conditions, no receipt, nothing. Then we suffered horrible sinking realisation the house would just be too small for us. We told them hours later wed made a terrible mistake, but it still took us weeks and lots of grumpy emails, including us getting in touch with the ombudman, to convince agent they were using cowboy tactics, and finally got our £275 back.

If renting was properly regulated, with clear responsibilities, fees and terms set out for all parties across the board, it would be so much easier. We're lucky to have found a nice house with decent LLs now, but it seems so many properties are being let now with the sole purpose of making the LL and agencies lots of money, with little or no thought given to the people wanting to make a home there.

Tee2072 Thu 09-Aug-12 11:09:59

Whoot! Just received my new lease...2 years...minimal rent increase!

::dances::

Gatorade Thu 09-Aug-12 11:10:46

Congrats tee, that's great news.

Trills Thu 09-Aug-12 11:13:35

Woot woot! (whatever that means)

ReallyTired Thu 09-Aug-12 11:21:59

I don't agree with two year fixed contracts. It traps the tenant as well as the landlord and people's circumstances change.

I agree that agencies need to be regulated more. In particular agents need to have some knowledge of rental law. Many agents see themselves as working for the landlord rather than acting as go between. Many agents take 10% to 15% of the rent and frankly do very little.

I think that many accidental landlords are unrealistic about maintaince. I think that landlords should be forced to put 10% of rent into a maintaince account for covering repairs. Half of the money not used at the end of the year should be paid back to to the tenant. This would encourage the tenant to look after the property so repairs aren't needed and also moviate the landlord to spend money on maintaince and pay for gas safety.

Gatorade Thu 09-Aug-12 11:25:29

The maintenance point is an interesting one tired, i think I quite like it, I' guess the issues would be cost of implementing (for LLs), cost of regulating, might drive up rents upfront and issues with getting the money back. But on the whole i don't think I'd be against it.

OwlLady Thu 09-Aug-12 14:44:45

It would be nice if the contract just rolled on though as it used to in the olden days when I first started renting. there was no pressure to move out or anything but you didn't have to keep paying stupid amounts for photocopying either

OwlLady Thu 09-Aug-12 14:46:23

I agree with you too Chocoholiday we have always been put under pressure to put a deposit on immediately as someone is coming in half an hour and 10 more people within the next 3/4's wink

ReallyTired Thu 09-Aug-12 14:58:39

I think there should be a one week cooling off period. As a landlord I would not want a tenant to move in on impluse. I have a happy tenant who thought carefully before she moved in. In my experience happy tenants pay their rent on time.

I think its a con when letting agents charge so much for signing a contract.

OwlLady Thu 09-Aug-12 15:06:52

do landlords even realise what goes on with their agents though? I was threatened with eviction for not renewing my contract even though I have never missed any payments at all. When i spoke to the landlord he said he was of the understanding that it just rolled on, but this was just ignored by the LA

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