The news this week provided a very telling picture of the UK rental industry with two very different headlines. On the one hand, we saw that ‘landlords enjoy £14bn tax breaks’ and on the other a comment piece in the Guardian entitled ‘Life in cold, damp, rat-infested rental housing is scarring – I know, I’m living it.’
Of course this might be a bit of a simplistic comparison but at The Tenant’s Voice we have some serious concerns about the state of the rental sector – which is why we’re here. What is particularly upsetting about the Comment piece is the way in which the author describes the mental affects of living in substandard rental accommodation. This is something that often gets forgotten in the whole drama of who has what rights, where the money should come from and how to get out of a situation without giving too much to the other side. There can be a physical cost to renting a flat that is damp, cold or dangerous – and that’s much easier to take action over – but what about the mental cost of living in a property that doesn’t have basic facilities, where your clothes never dry properly or that you’re ashamed to bring friends home to?
We all have a horror story of this kind – perhaps you had a landlord who conveniently forgot that you were entitled to exclusive possession and frequently let themselves in. Or maybe your landlord was completely hands off – away travelling, refused to employ a managing agent and left you without heating or hot water for almost three months as a result of being uncontactable. You may have had problems with other tenants in shared housing that your landlord refused to help you deal with, resulting in you constantly living in fear of being verbally – or even physically – attacked in your own home. These are just a few of the experiences that we’ve had at The Tenant’s Voice and we’re sure that you could add to them with your own (feel free to comment below and share) – we see similar problems every day on our forums.
In the Comment article, the author taglines his piece with the statement ‘Rogue landlords are raking in £5.6bn a year from unsafe properties,’ something that can be easily backed up by the Shelter Rogue Landlords campaign, which seeks to name and shame those landlords who are making huge profits from substandard properties. While some are obviously worse than others, the lack of proper regulation of the rental sector – in terms of real, tangible action that can be taken by a tenant when a boiler is broken or when walls are covered in mould – is what is allowing those who do behave unprofessionally to get away with it. No one should have to pay to live in a property that makes them feel like a substandard human being and with your help – and The Tenant’s Voice community – we’re certain that we can make a change.