Official investigation: “There are limited redress options for tenants when things go wrong”

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Official investigation: “There are limited redress options for tenants when things go wrong”

A “concerning proportion” of renters “live in unsafe or insecure conditions with limited ability to exercise their rights” and government efforts to improve the situation are “not effective” – that’s the conclusion of an official investigation.

A recently-published report into regulation in the private rented sector by the National Audit Office, the official body responsible for scrutinising the work of government departments, found that:

  • Privately rented properties are less likely to comply with minimum safety standards than other types of housing and are more likely to be classified as non-decent.
  • Tenants face a number of barriers in enforcing their rights, including costs and a lack of awareness of their rights. – There are “limited redress options” for tenants when things go wrong.
  • The government has “limited insight “into which regulatory approaches are effective in ensuring landlords comply with their legal obligations
  • Rented homes are increasingly populated by low-income groups and families whose access to other housing options is limited.
  • The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities does not have a detailed plan to address the problems that renters face.

The report concludes: “A concerning proportion of private renters live in unsafe or insecure conditions with limited ability to exercise their rights. In recent years, the Department has made various regulatory changes aimed at improving experiences for renters… however, the way that private renting is regulated means that these changes are not effective in ensuring the sector is consistently fair for renters.”

The report also highlights research showing that 35% of tenants have problems negotiating with their landlord due to lack of knowledge and 22% of private renters who have considered making a complaint to their landlord or letting agent have not done so

Ajay Jagota, founder of online claims management firm Veriwise , welcomed the report

He said:

“This report makes clear that there is next to no protection for renters when things go wrong – I couldn’t have put it better myself.

“Instead we have a system designed to support our most vulnerable renters which relies almost entirely on tenants enforcing their own rights, without the money or knowledge to do so. Veriwise was founded to give renters the support and protection they clearly need.

“There is a major problem in this country of renters being forced to endure unsafe and unsanitary homes because their landlords and letting agents think they can get away with it – and with almost a quarter of renters not even making complaints about the condition of their homes when they want to, who is to say that they are not right”

. By law, privately and social rented properties must be free of category 1 hazards (constituting serious threats to health and safety). In 2019/20, an estimated 13% of privately rented homes in England (equivalent to 589,000 properties), had at least one category 1 hazard. This compares with 10% of owner-occupied homes and 5% of social housing.

An estimated 23% of privately rented homes are classed as non-decent (rising to 29% for those whose tenants receive housing support), compared with 12% of social housing.

Veriwise takes on housing disrepair claims on behalf of renters, negotiating with councils or private landlords to get property maintenance issues fixed quickly and claim compensation for renters from landlords. In cases where the landlord does not comply Veriwise have a panel of solicitors who can take the case to court to ensure the landlord complies and pays any compensation.

All renters have to do is submit the issues they are experiencing with their rented home online, allowing Veriwise to identify legal breaches and follow them up with landlords to rapidly resolve the issue and seek compensation where appropriate. Veriwise is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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