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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?

I'd also love to see the shared ownership scheme extended to enable tenants to purchase a fraction of their home from a private Landlord. Highly unlikely the property is going to end up back on the open market if it was intended as a buy-to-let. Why not give the landlords a tax break for helping folk onto the property ladder?

amybelle1990 Sun 05-Aug-12 13:19:15

strugglingwiththepreteenbit- that sounds rather sensible. Wish I could add to your suggestion but I'm a dunce with this sort of stuff.

It is really clear that it's not easy enough for the people between council houses and being super rich to ever settle down in their own house and tackling it from the 'private, renting' sector would be a great place to start. People from council houses make far too much of an issue with leaving their house if their house is no longer suitable for them (e.g. children have left) as do retired folk who enjoyed the 'boom days' when they could easily afford a house. All of my retired relatives have bought a smaller house to allow new families to enjoy their previous family home as much as they did and I think it would be better if this POV was encouraged instead of people putting so much value on the 'home' that they no longer need.

IfElephantsWoreTrousers Sun 05-Aug-12 13:28:25

struggling I thing that's a great idea. There must be a way to make a system like that work. There would have to be an agreement that if the tenant owns 10% of the house and the roof needs repairing then the tenant is liable for 10% of the repair costs. There would also have to be some alternative enforcable sanction (other than eviction) if a tenant who had bought 10% of the house suddenly stopped paying the rent on the rented 90%. I hope this idea can be made workable though!

lizbee156 Sun 05-Aug-12 13:36:39

My DH & I are having a similar conversation now.
We think our landlord is going to give us notice soon because they want to sell.
This is the 6th house we've rented in 7 years.
We've had to fight to get our deposit back every single time, we are good tenants, we always pay our rent on time, keep the house clean, the garden tidy, always allow inspections etc.
Although we are on the housing list we have no hope of getting a place.

I could go on about our situation and the shocking things that have happened.

Instead I will just say I agree with the OP and the following posts.
A campaign is a brilliant idea.

LadySybildeChocolate Sun 05-Aug-12 13:41:31

I'd like to see stronger penalties for landlords who don't maintain their properties. It's 2012 and there's still families living with damp. There needs to be more regulation regarding how rents are increased. I've seen threads on here where the landlords have increased rents by stupid amounts in order to drive the tenants out. Any increase needs to be capped.

OddBoots Sun 05-Aug-12 13:46:56

I don't know the ins and outs of it but I know things are better in other parts of Europe, there must be things this government could look into if they wanted to but so many of them either make money form renting themselves or have close family or friends who do so there is no incentive to change things.

boohoohooshouldhavewongold Sun 05-Aug-12 14:03:43

I think that this would have major legal implications, I cannot see any LL handing over 10% of a house to a tenant at the end of the day the LL is responsible for the mortgage buildings insurance etc what would be in it for the LL? Not all LL are money grabbing, many look after the houses well, keep tenants long term accept HB etc.

I do agree something needs to be done, and absolutely for bad LLs, I totally agree that having unsafe buildings being rented out for tenants is discrageful. I am an accidental LL but have been a tenant as well, so I can see both sides.

LadySybildeChocolate Sun 05-Aug-12 16:01:58


Lucyellensmum99 Sun 05-Aug-12 16:09:26

what does "squeezed middle" mean?

Acumens100 Sun 05-Aug-12 16:19:07

It means naice but poor, not like those ghastly poors with the accents. grin

<hoists chip on shoulder and juggles northern vowels>

LadySybildeChocolate Sun 05-Aug-12 16:22:06

'Squeezed' middle referrers to those families who are middle class, but broke. I'm sure all families who rent need just as much protection though.

Lucyellensmum99 Sun 05-Aug-12 17:16:13

middle class but broke?????L.M.A.O That is the funniest thing ive ever heard - thats ME that is!! I speak well and don't own either any burberry or a staffordshire bull terrier. In fact i own two jack russels that seem to be the dog of choice of the middle classes these days. So thats me - squeezed middle!

preteens as i have now had this explained to me, i dont get why you would only want your campaign to be to help the "squeezed middle" why not families that are in hardship too? We might lose our house, my nightmare is falling foul to an inscrupulous landlord because we will probably have to rely, to a certain degree on housing benefits and wont be able to afford to top up. Do we not fall into the category of people that need protecting? or is it that you think that Mnet would only be interested in helping, nice but poor middle class families?

usualsuspect Sun 05-Aug-12 17:18:25

Do only the squeezed middle deserve protection then?

usualsuspect Sun 05-Aug-12 17:20:39

I would support a campaign that gave all private renters long term contracts etc.

Not just the 'squeezed middle'

LadySybildeChocolate Sun 05-Aug-12 17:22:57

All tenants need extra protection, but I think that the eviction process for bad tenants needs speeding up.

Lucyellensmum99 Sun 05-Aug-12 17:37:11

We could be bad tennants though lady - my DP is self employed, his pay is erratic, i can't get a job to counter this but im trying my best. This means we sometimes pay our mortgage nearly a month late. I imagine a landlord would be none to pleased about that and we would be considered a bad tennant - and we would be out on the streets. I can't imagine we would qualify for social housing either. Im not blaming the LLs for this, id be mightily peeved if soemone didnt make regular payments but this is one of the only reasons we are clinging on to a house with mortgage payments we struggle to make as we would have NO security as tennants. sad That and we would probably have to find an extra 2-300 a month to rent a two bedroom house/flat in this area than we pay for our mortgage.

LadySybildeChocolate Sun 05-Aug-12 17:40:29

I mean the ones who make their neighbours lives hell and the ones which trash the properties. Your circumstances don't make you a bad tenant. Have you applied for housing benefit??

Lucyellensmum99 Sun 05-Aug-12 17:45:24

We own our house Lady, am hoping that i will get a job soon and it wont become an issue, but could easily see how we would be very vulnerable tennats. I can't imagine a LL would be very sympathetic to payments that are constantly late - we do make them eventually but its pretty erratic, the bank are understanding (ish) becaues they get their money in the end, but that would actually be quite big ask to expect a landlord (who probaly has a mortgage to pay) to accept that. It keeps me awake at night, id love to sell up and pay our debts, rent somewhere reasonable, but i know that it would be even more stressful than trying to keep hold of this house - it keeps me awake at night sad

oh dear, my apologies. I was using the term to mean anyone who falls neither into the security of home ownership, or those whose need is sufficient to qualify for the relative security of council/housing association home. Nothing to do with accents or designer labels, just pinching the phrase from our politicians.

I think there always will be people who need short-term tenancies to suit landlords with short term investment plans or those who need to let their own home out temporarily. I hope that a professional landlord would be tempted by an exemption from capital gains tax if they sold a portion of the property to their tenant. They would also enjoy the security of a long term tenant with their own interest in the property. I quite agree that the liabiliy for repairs would also need to be divided in proportion to the share of the home owned. It would require a contract where either party could force the sale of the property under certain conditions. (e.g. Non-payment of rent)
Keep going with the comments, this needs a Sunday night thrashing out! Come on, if this is relevant to enough people I want our politicians disturbed on their summer holidays!

LadySybildeChocolate Sun 05-Aug-12 17:48:42

sad You sound so stressed, Lucy. I'm self employed. I have periods where all is well, and times when I earn nothing. I try to keep my costs as low as possible so I can still afford the rent if I have little coming in if that makes sense.

Lucyellensmum99 Sun 05-Aug-12 17:56:56

We mostly manage to do this Lady, but we are pretty much in a position where we can't do that - its v stressful and hand to mouth - we were on target this month, but a client is playing silly buggars re payment and we are stuffed sad We will sort it out im sure, but i hate it. I just have to remain positive that i will find a job soon - that is the frustration, we simply cannot exist on one wage so we woudl be struggling even if the money wasn't erratic. I need to get a job, end of. One day my boat will come in.......

preteen i think if we were to lose the house, or have to sell, it probably wont happen to be honest, we would be just in that boat actually as im sure we woudlnt qualify for social housing.

Lucy, if you do not enjoy the peace of mind of a secure home I absolutely do mean you! I sincerely hope you find work soon.

Lucyellensmum99 Sun 05-Aug-12 17:58:28

Thanks struggling - i appreciate it x

LadySybildeChocolate Sun 05-Aug-12 18:01:35

Fingers crossed for you, Lucy x

MousyMouse Sun 05-Aug-12 18:02:12

I'm all in for a review of tennant right and landlords responsibilities - and vice versa.

but I don't agree with your 'right to buy' idea in your second post. doesn't this make renting even more unatractive?

LadySybildeChocolate Sun 05-Aug-12 18:09:29

I don't think it's right that Landlords evict tenants or increase the rents, meaning the tenant is forced to leave, just so that they can sell the property. I really do disagree with this, it is the tenants home after all.

good evening Mousey! Why would that make renting less attractive? I'm thinking aloud on here, too!

Lady, would an obligation to sell with a sitting tenant honouring existing conditions cover that?

LadySybildeChocolate Sun 05-Aug-12 18:15:33

Possibly, like the transfer of ownership in a business?

yes! To a professional landlord that's exactly what it should be.

Tee2072 Sun 05-Aug-12 18:25:07

I would love incentives for LL to allow for really long term leases, but with break clauses, as businesses can have, so you can leave before the end of the lease, if you want.

We are leasing and trying to save for a house. We're about to sign a 2 year lease which will give us some breathing room to get organised.

hello Tee! Would the landlord be able to break the agreement or the tenant? What minimum notice period would you suggest?

Tee2072 Mon 06-Aug-12 07:14:15

Usually a break clause is written for the tenant's benefit, at least commercially. I think 30 - 60 days would be a good notice period.

There could be a landlord break clause, but I would want the notice period to be at least 90 days as in some areas it can take that long to find a new place to live.

thanks Tee. Personally I think I'd prefer landlords not to have one, if they identify themselves as interested in long-term tenancies. I'd like to see them rewarded through the tax system for providing secure homes as long as they were secure for as long as the tenant wanted/needed them.

Portofino Mon 06-Aug-12 09:51:11

I am in Belgium and the standard is a 9 year lease, which you can break without penalty after 3 years. Before that you have to pay 1, 2, 3 months rent. All leases are registered centrally, rents can only increase by indexation, and the landlord can only give you notice if he, or a member of his immediate family, wants to live in the property themselves. It is set down in law who is responsible for maintaining what. Your deposit (2 months rent) is held in a locked account at your bank (and can therefore earn interest).

A detailed entrance/exit inspection is normally carried out by an independant surveyor. You are expected to leave the place in the same condition you found it, but decorating etc costs are amortised over the 9 year period - so if you left after 3 years, you would pay 6/9ths of the cost of anything that needed doing. It can be done!

MousyMouse Mon 06-Aug-12 10:06:00

it's similar in germany afaik (haven't lived there for a long time though).
and usually the flats are unfurnished and completely empty, i.e. no kitchen and flooring.
but often you can buy the kitchen or carpets off the previous tennant.

LadySybildeChocolate Mon 06-Aug-12 10:35:03

White goods are a problem in the UK. One old landlord provided very old appliances and I was told it was my responsibility to repair/replace them if they broke down (I was young, didn't know the law). The fridge went first, then the cooker was condemned as it was leaking, then the washing machine packed up so I had to replace it all. I took all but the cooker with me when I left (I sold it) as there was a cooker in the new house. Again, I ended up replacing the cooker, but when I moved house again all white goods apart from a freezer were supplied. I've had to give my washing machine away, and left my cooker there (which I'm really not happy about as they haven't refunded my deposit yet, despite caring for the house). I do wish there was a standard policy or either all supplied or none.

MousyMouse Mon 06-Aug-12 10:59:21

also, in germany (don't know about belgium), there is no council owned housing stock.
properties are mostly owned by professional landlords (who own whole blocks of flats) or housing associations. people who need help with rent can get housing benefit. another option there is to buy a share in a housing association (which is a bit like shared ownership), but it is difficult to get out of this kind of arrangement if your circumstances change.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Mon 06-Aug-12 11:24:38

I would be all in favour of long leases similar to those found on the continent. So, five year+ lease which the tenant can break with a certain amount of notice - perhaps with penalty charges in the first year or so.

And I would like to be able to decorate freely and the assumption to be that I hand the property back in the condition I took it on. If I don't, it should be easier for the LL to pursue me through the courts.

No inspections! This is my home. Does the bank which holds your mortgage ( and which is therefore invested in the value of your home) inspect you? Thought not.

But it's not just tenant's rights - it's cost that is an issue. Rents are much much higher in UK than on the continent. So a situation where for instance the tenant installs their own kitchen etc wouldn't be workable here because tenants are paying so much in rent already - how would that even approach affordable? Of course that's in part because houses are overpriced, but how on earth do you deal with that??

Housing in the UK is a mess.

I wouldn't support shared ownership - think it just pushes prices up and traps the tenant without really giving them advantages, except security of tenure, which they have anyway.

Anyway, this won't get universal support on Mumsnet, that's for sure. There are lots of accidental LLs on here who 'can't' sell their houses.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Mon 06-Aug-12 11:25:49

Second to last para should read which they should have anyway.

whatinthewhatnow Mon 06-Aug-12 11:32:10

yes, I'm for this! particularly the long leases. families are massively disadvantaged by the insecurity of renting. (thinking of schools really). I think germany and belgium have this sorted, really.

Portofino Mon 06-Aug-12 12:33:59

I think it discourages the "make a quick buck" landlord too - Purchasing a buy-to-let property then has to be seen as a long term investment.

I don't think this should be a threat to "accidental landlords" unless they tell porkies to secure a tenant about the length of time the property will be let for. There will always be people who work on contracts and need mobility. Just those that don't currently lack security and a sense of "home." our landlord owns four properties on our estate bought as an investment with an inheritance. He is thankfully very good,and we are good tenants, but I'm trying to think of ways that would appeal to landlords like him to offer greater security and be willing to relinquish the flexability they have in exchange for the security they would be offering.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Tue 07-Aug-12 10:09:06

There are tenants who want flexibility, it's true, but I think there are far far more accidental landlords.

OwlLady Tue 07-Aug-12 13:37:01

I think the notice period should be three months as well.

The letting agents need more regulation - that's my big issue.
They get away with quoting things as law when they are not, huge fees for printing a contract off, many charge holding fees that aren't returned.

It all needs regulating.

OwlLady Tue 07-Aug-12 13:56:09

I know, £120 for a photocopied contract from the previous year with the date changed that they just pop in a drawer until they fleece you again in 6 or 12 months time

Gatorade Tue 07-Aug-12 14:16:27

As a LL I would support some of the proposals on this thread.

I would particularly like long leases to be standard (with exceptions where the tenant/LL require a short lease) and I am a big fan of the way that Belgium/Germany regulate their rental markets but I think that we would need to be careful about putting too much regulation on the actual monthly rental value of a property, a free market in this respect is favourable. I wouldn't be against the increases to rent being regulated though (i.e. once a rental value has been agreed and contracted I don't think LL's should be able to try to increase the rent disproportionately at the end of the first rental period as I am fully aware that some tenants may try to stretch themselves to stay in their home and give their family stability, LL's should not be allowed to exploit this).

In terms of inspections I would be strongly against making these illegal, at the end of the day my tenants are living in a very valuable asset and I feel I should be allowed reasonable access (once or twice a year) in order to check the overall condition (more structural here (or poor cleaning which could lead to issues), I don't really care how tidy the place is).

Finally, I would also not be keen on the shared ownership one, I bought the properties to secure my future and my children's future, not to sell on bit by bit.

MousyMouse Tue 07-Aug-12 14:26:37

In terms of inspections I would be strongly against making these illegal, at the end of the day my tenants are living in a very valuable asset and I feel I should be allowed reasonable access (once or twice a year) in order to check the overall condition (more structural here (or poor cleaning which could lead to issues), I don't really care how tidy the place is).

that is one of the things I would like rid of, actually.
it's quite de-moralising going through regular inspections. if the tennant is a good tennant he/she will point out things that need repairing without ll/agency wandering in regularly. if he/she is a bad tennant, no amount of inspections can change that.

silverten Tue 07-Aug-12 14:44:58

As a LL I inspect for one major reason: is there any damage and do I need to do any repairs? EG: if my tenants aren't cleaning and the carpet is getting unreasonably knackered then I have a quiet word. If some local yobbo has kicked off the downpipe on the front wall so the rain is starting a damp problem on the lounge wall behind the shelving unit then I can get it fixed before their books go mouldy.

^that is one of the things I would like rid of, actually.
it's quite de-moralising going through regular inspections. if the tennant is a good tennant he/she will point out things that need repairing without ll/agency wandering in regularly. if he/she is a bad tennant, no amount of inspections can change that.^

If as a LL you have a good tenant who tells you that the guttering is leaking and causing a damp problem, you have an opportunity to have a look at the place when you're sizing up the repair. So there's no need to arrange an 'official' inspection cos you've seen what you needed to see and why make more work?

If on the other hand you have a bad tenant who doesn't give a stuff, or just one who is a bit dippy and doesn't realise that a quick repair will save a wealth of problems, you get to fix the gutter before you have to re-plaster and re-decorate the room(s).

Gatorade Tue 07-Aug-12 14:47:16

I don't think we will ever agree on that point MM, an inspection in the past led to me evicting a tenant (last resort) for structurally damaging a property. If the inspection hadn't been carried out I would not have been aware of the problem and the implications could have been huge.

I have personally been subject to an inspection when I lived abroad for work for a few years, I understand that some people may find them intrusive but I personally didn't have an issue with this, maybe the issue is more with the way in which some LL's or agents perform the inspections.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Tue 07-Aug-12 14:56:50

But the mortgage company doesn't inspect - a mortgage holder's house is their investment too. What is the difference?

Gatorade Tue 07-Aug-12 15:03:32

Not everyone who owns their home has a mortgage Fruit Salad, also, a 'mortgage holder' usually has a hefty deposit (not always I admit) and therefore this protects/gives security to the mortgage company. I am sure that a renter wouldn't want to put down a deposit for at least 20% of the value of the house they are renting to protect the LL. Unfortunately the small deposit paid by renters doesn't always cover the damage that can be made (a lesson I unfortunately learnt quite early on).

Trills Tue 07-Aug-12 15:07:10

Why families in particular, why not just "people in privately-rented homes"?

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Tue 07-Aug-12 15:17:52

Ok, so shall we agree that if you have put down a small deposit, or your deposit has been eaten by house price falls, then the mortgage company has the right to inspect. Because it is their investment, you know.

Gatorade Tue 07-Aug-12 15:24:22

Yes, I do agree with that FruitSalad, if the mortgage company wishes to do so (which I doubt they would want to given the volume of mortgages that they hold). There is a bit of a technical difference, the house is actually security for the loan, its not actually owned by the mortgage company, but I don't want to completely de-rail OPs thread!

Trills, I think families with children still living at home are particularly vulnerable because stability is very important for children's emotional wellbeing and development. Frequent school changes for example can have a significant negative impact on children's behaviour and academic success. It concerns me that this choice to give stability can be taken out of parents hands by being a private tenant and potentially having to move on a regular basis. Adults are generally a bit more resiliant and able to determine their own futures.

No reason to restrict the debate to families, though.

Trills Tue 07-Aug-12 15:45:01

If when you are asked to leave your house the nearest suitable one is one where a child would have to move schools then it's likely that it would be disruptive to an adult's employment as well - no longer on the right bus route, need to buy a car, etc.

IMO the need for better conditions on renting (for tenants and landlords) in this country is not about families, it's just about people.

Tee2072 Tue 07-Aug-12 15:45:57

Except, as a parent who rents, I'm going to do everything I can to stay near my child's school.

Granted, being in NI, we have no catchments, so it makes no difference if we move across town or not. But I still will do my damnest to stay in the area we are in now, for ease if nothing else. Even if it means downsizing or something, if we have to move.

We are about to sign a 2 year lease, just as my son starts school and I am relieved to even have that.

Trills Tue 07-Aug-12 15:48:50

A 2 year lease? Lucky you. Is this in the same house that you moved to recently (recently ish?)

I'm very interested in gatorade's point about how inspections are carried out. Anyone like to suggest what would be reasonable?

For me, I'd find it less stressful if the inspection was specifically concerned with structural items provided in a checklist both parties had sight of. I stress about things like the carpet, which my deposit would more than cover replacing that's been puked on once too often by a child. Although I've done my best, renting an industrial carpet cleaner every six months and getting the vanish out promply when such a disaster occurs. Hands up everyone who's had a toddler draw on walls to the point that you need to repaint?! I consider it very much my responsibility, but I wanted to not feel that our future in the home depended on my dealing with it to a deadline, and if I did repaint, that Icould enjoy living with the results for as long as I damn well wanted to.

Anyone else?!

Tee2072 Tue 07-Aug-12 15:52:58

Yes, Trills, same house. Our current lease is up in September and I just spoke to the agent who spoke to the LL who has agreed to 2 more years, with a rent increase. Don't know how much the increase is, but we're going to stay unless it's millions!

It can be very hard to find houses in this area which is why I put the ball in motion so early to find out about renewal.

I don't stress about it, struggling. I not only have a toddler who pukes all the time (well, used to, he seems to have outgrown it!) but am myself a klutz. I have never had a landlord or agent comment on the state of things like carpet on inspection and I've been renting for nearly 30 years. I just give it a good clean when I move out. Of course, I also don't worry about holes in walls and hang all the pictures I want etc. It is my home for the duration, as far as I am concerned.

Trills Tue 07-Aug-12 15:53:50

Fantastic - well done! Fingers crossed the rent increase is only nominal.

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

I'm hoping! Thanks!

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.

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).

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 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).

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.

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.

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!

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)

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!

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.

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!


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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