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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?

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

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 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

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

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.

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.

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

Woot woot! (whatever that means)

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

Congrats tee, that's great news.

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

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

::dances::

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.

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 !!

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.

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.

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).

goingundertheradar Wed 08-Aug-12 20:42:13

As a landlord and tenant lawyer my experience has shown that landlords are often happy to sign up to longer tenancies but that the difficulty in evicting a problem tenant puts them off.

Even with rent arrears you could be looking at 6 months to evict and if you have a tenant that pays the rent but causes a "minor" discretionary breach you can end up with much long delays and a suspended order. That's not to mention the fees that can be run up.

That's why section 21 has been so helpful for landlord. It provides themwith the safety of knowing that they can seek possession relatively easily if they encounter problems with tenants but of course this will have no effect in a longet term tenancy.

With over 15 years in the business I can say that landlords have it easier now than ore 1997 - which I believe has been part of the reason why there are more indivdual buy to let landlords.

IMO the best thing to do though is to rent through a professional landlord with a large stock of properties - they may not be happy to sign leases for longer than 12 months but they are usually keen to retain good tenants.

I've also found that communication, or lack of it can cause a problem. Many the time I have been told that the tenants simply left at the end of the term as they thought they had too. Good practice from the agents/landlords would ensure that the options were provided towards the end of the tenancy.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Wed 08-Aug-12 08:28:16

So how do you go about finding an estate letting? I guess they are rather few and far between!

HidingFromDD Tue 07-Aug-12 21:37:29

I think there should be a distinction between 'professional' and 'accidental' landlords. After divorce I rented somewhere for me and my DDs on the basis that I was assured it was a long term rental. I would have quite happily signed up for 3 years to provide stability for the children. After the 6 month rental period ended I again stressed that I wanted a long term and was assured that the ll did too. 2 months later I was given notice as they had decided to sell, despite me offering to pay 12 months rent up front. Apart from the major stress involved (I ended up moving 4 days after a serious operation when I should have been resting), it also cost me £1k in removal fees.

I ended up buying a property in a rush as I couldn't allow the children to be stressed by yet another move in the middle of GCSEs/A levels. I'm very lucky I had that option.

I must confess to feeling somewhat pleased when the house remained on the market for 12 months before it sold (at a significant reduction, it was overpriced anyway)

Tee2072 Tue 07-Aug-12 21:08:31

I was actually offered a house like that from my previous landlord, internationlavulva, but the house is in the middle of no where, on their estate, and we don't have a car so need to be in the city. Otherwise I would have snatched it up!

internationalvulva Tue 07-Aug-12 20:40:05

We are currently in a property where we can have the house for the next few decades should we wish to. I tell you, estate lettings are the way to go. As in landlord owns bit country estate.) properties tend NOT to be sold in hard times as they reman rented and there is the desire to pass on the whole estate to the next generation etc...they are not just out for a quick buck like a lot of more modern BTL landlords.

internationalvulva Tue 07-Aug-12 20:35:38

Lucy, I don't know if this will be useful, it depends where you live, but you will often find landlords whose houses are part of a larger estate (ie they have estate workers in tied cottages and then some normal cottages available to rent for general public) are slightly more flexible with dates of rent payment, and looking for longer term tenants. We have a couple near to us and although they have not admitted it to the landlord when signing up for a rental they have had to be a little flexible with payments and the landlords have been very reasonable about it! they can afford to be because usually the houses are owned outright.

Trills Tue 07-Aug-12 17:44:23

I have a ridiculously detailed inventory for the house I've just moved into. It lists the colour of the bit where the ceiling light goes into the ceiling, and states the colour of the biro marks on the wooden chests of drawers.

But the garage was locked so the inventory man couldn't see it, so it's just listed as "there is a garage" (which is full of crap).

Tee2072 Tue 07-Aug-12 17:41:48

I would agree that a list of what can/should be inspected would be a great idea. Also, a better inventory system.

This house I'm currently in the inventory is practically non-existent, to the point where they managed to miss an entire WC, including some things that were stored in a cupboard in there and an entire garage full of things like a lawn mower! I could walk out of here at the end of my lease with entire compliment of gardening equipment and they'd have no recourse. I offered to re-do it for them when we moved in but was told not to bother. hmm

Trills Tue 07-Aug-12 16:18:26

I think that's a good idea - a list of what it is reasonable to inspect on an ongoing basis (generally things that need sorting or else they will get worse, relating to damp or water or mould) and what just needs to be returned to original condition (minus wear and tear) on checkout (like painting walls).

Gatorade Tue 07-Aug-12 16:16:52

To answer your post about the extent of the inspection struggling I really wouldn't be concerned if my tenants were a young family and the DC's had added a bit of individual wall art! As far as cosmetics go it is the condition of the property when the tenant leaves that is of concern to me, not in the middle of the tenancy. I probably won't be immediately repainting my own walls if my DD decides to 'decorate' when she gets a little older and I wouldn't expect my tenants to either.

I think a 'checklist' type approach would be a good idea. Simple things like checking all the internal walls are still in place (!), the condition of the sealant around the bath/shower (incase I need to get it replaced) etc. I wouldn't want draws/cupboard doors to be opened and I think the extent should be standard and agreed up front.

Tee2072 Tue 07-Aug-12 15:54:19

I'm hoping! Thanks!

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