Citizens Advice call for better protection against retaliatory evictions

Renters holding back on complaining due to fear of eviction

Citizens Advice have called for an independent complaints body to be set up, as many tenants in the private rented sector are failing to press their landlords or letting agents to carry out property repairs for fear they may be evicted.

In a recent report by the consumer body claims that more than two in five private renters, 1.85 million households, have waited longer than necessary for a property repair in the last four years.

Over the last year Citizens Advice has helped with over 16,000 problems around private rented homes in poor condition.

It is a legal responsibility for landlords and their letting agent representatives to carry out a repair within a reasonable time, typically one month or 24 hours in more serious circumstances.  A court can order a landlord or agent to carry out a repair or award financial compensation to a tenant if they are made wait longer than what is deemed a reasonable time.

The charity’s YouGov survey of over 700 private renters in England found that:

  • 57% of rents who were eligible for compensation said they didn’t want to force the issue for fear of being evicted
  • 51% were concerned their landlord would increase their rent if they continued to complain, and
  • only 1% of people who could claim compensation actually took their case to court.

According to Citizens Advice many renters take on the responsibility for the repair with 30% carrying out the repairs themselves and 14% paying for repairs out of their own pocket.  One family who asked for help from Citizens Advice had already spent £10,000 of their own money fixing many issues in their property, including a broken heating system, after their landlord failed to respond to repeated complaints.

Citizens Advice are pressing for better protection against retaliatory evictions by rolling out independent complaints bodies across the PRS.  Only 0.005% of properties in the PRS are covered by independent schemes therefore Citizens Advice are asking the government to make membership compulsory, and to guarantee renters protection from losing their home while their case is being examined.

Gillian Guy, chief executive at Citizens Advice, commented: “Rent is the most expensive costs households face, but protections for renters simply don’t reflect this.  The new government needs to make it easier for people to have their rights enforced when their home is in poor condition.  The redress process also needs to give renters protection from retaliatory action, so they feel confident reporting a problem in their home and don’t feel like their only option is to dip into their own pocket”.

Full article is available on LettingAgentTODAY:

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