This month has seen many stories revolving around the actual state of rented properties, be it tenants causing damage, landlords not being realistic on fair wear and tear, or even properties causing tenants to be ill.
The National Landlords’ Association released findings from research this month showing that over a quarter of landlords have had their property damaged by tenants in the last 12 months, and that on average one in 12 – approximately 120,000 – landlords in the UK have had to make an insurance claim of some kind in the last 12 months. Carolyn Uphill, the NLA chair, urged all landlords to ensure they have the correct insurance policy in place to protect their investment as a simple home insurance policy will not provide sufficient cover for all eventualities.
Although there are genuine cases of damage by tenants, the latest findings from the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) show that some landlords and letting agencies are still pushing for ‘Betterment’ at the end of tenancies, rather than allowing for fair wear and tear. Pat Barber, Chair of the AIIC comments that the key underlying problem is that landlords, agents and tenants have different expectations when it comes to fair wear and tear issues, and best way to deal with this is to have a comprehensive inventory at the beginning of each tenancy with check in and check out reports.
As important as it is to have comprehensive inventories to assist with determining fair wear and tear, equally and if not more so, it is important that properties are in a habitable state to begin with. Research from a YouGov survey has revealed that 10 per cent of 4,544 private renters in England have suffered ill health in the past 12 months because their private rented housing was of a poor state. The two most common complaints where of mould and damp which can irritate health issues such as asthma and eczema. Other issues of concern to tenants were electrical hazards and animal infestations.
Shelter has highlighted this research, as evidence towards its claims that revenge evictions are being carried out by landlords. The Residential Landlords Association however has pointed out that the number of private sector tenants evicted has fallen over the past year, and the vast majority of evictions happen for legitimate reasons. ARLA has detailed in evidence to MPs on revenge evictions that ‘it is probable that retaliatory eviction is likely to cost landlords more money than merely remedying any problem.’