It’s that time of year again when all of us start to think about what we’d like someone to wrap up and put underneath the tree for us on Christmas Day. Given the access we on The Tenant’s Voice have to the kinds of issues that tenants in the UK regularly run up against – via our forums – we thought we’d put together a list of what we think tenants like us would like for Christmas (just in case Santa – or the government – is listening…).
- Affordable rents. The UK – and in particular areas such as London – have seen rents rise at terrifying rates. The increase in the cost of renting a home in England and Wales is matching or even exceeding house price growth with no signs of slowing down. Next year experts predict more rent rises over and above the 6.3% this year (11.6% in London).
- Responsible agents. We hope that here on The Tenant’s Voice we’re helping to shape a new generation of letting agents who take their responsibilities seriously, to tenants not just to landlords. However, at the moment we know that many of you would be pleased to have an agent who answered emails on time, responded to repairs requests swiftly and didn’t have an unhelpful answer for everything.
- No fees. The thirst for squeezing more and more money from UK tenants continues with a whole new range of fees for every aspect of the landlord-tenant (and agent) relationships – most of which are of course falling to the tenant to pay. We have seen new fees such as the ‘tenancy deposit fee’ being forced on to tenants, when this is something the landlord should pay. Then there are the usual charges for inventories, contractual documents and some agents are even starting to charge for certain viewings. What all tenants would love to see is a reduction in the wealth of fees – or at least a cap on more being introduced.
- More choice of rental properties. There is a severe lack of properties to rent at the moment, one of the reasons why rents are skyrocketing so much and a big motivation in the complacency some landlords are showing with such a huge pool of tenants to choose from. More affordable housing would result in more people getting onto the property ladder, fewer tenants looking for rentals and potentially more available properties to choose from, balancing out the rentals market in a big way.
- The ability to force repairs. At this time of year, inevitably, the boiler breaks down and for many tenants this then means the start of weeks – maybe months – of cold showers, portable heaters and angry exchanges with a landlord who will try everything to avoid spending the money. For Christmas this year, wouldn’t it be wonderful to see some kind of process introduced that held landlords accountable, that stated a specific period of time within which repairs must be carried out (rather than just a ‘reasonable’ length of time) and which gave tenants options for sanctions with real bite where landlords didn’t fulfill their legal and contractual obligations.