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families in private, rented homes

(89 Posts)
strugglingwiththepreteenbit Sun 05-Aug-12 07:52:38

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?

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.

strugglingwiththepreteenbit Sun 05-Aug-12 18:10:29

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

strugglingwiththepreteenbit Sun 05-Aug-12 18:12:58

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?

strugglingwiththepreteenbit Sun 05-Aug-12 18:19:24

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.

strugglingwiththepreteenbit Sun 05-Aug-12 23:34:29

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.

strugglingwiththepreteenbit Mon 06-Aug-12 09:41:39

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.

strugglingwiththepreteenbit Mon 06-Aug-12 20:42:18

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.

Toughasoldboots Tue 07-Aug-12 13:54:38

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.

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