A report by the independent consumer body Which? was published revealing the views of tenants and the problems the Private Rental Sector is facing.
Which? is also giving tenants a platform to share their grievances by using the hashtag #RentRage on Twitter or contacting them directly.
One of the surveys in the report revealed the top five issues most UK renters had experienced with properties they’d lived in. Plumbing and heating was top (60%), followed by damp or mould (41%), condensation (33%), draughts (19%) and structural problems (17%).
An undercover investigation concluded some letting agents are guilty of other issues such as false advertising, being unclear with fees and providing unsafe alarms.
The findings will not do much to restore people’s confidence in the property industry and specifically the rental sector, whose reputation industry bodies and the government are working hard to improve with new initiatives and laws to crack down on rogue agents and landlords.
It’s important to note the report isn’t an attack on all property professionals. But with #RentRage trending on social media, how can letting agents and landlords address these issues to make tenants more satisfied with their service? Here are some suggested ways to deal with the problems mentioned in the report in a professional manner.
Explaining the Report
How significant is this report and its findings? Which? compiled the report based on different surveys and the results. They sent fieldworkers posing as potential tenants to 30 viewings with letting agents across six different UK cities that have a large private rented sector. This was in conjunction with Populus, who surveyed over 2,000 UK renting adults in March 2018 and a separate survey by YouGov who asked 2,574 adults in May 2018 who have rented before.
The report may only be a snapshot but it’s hard to deny that many renters are being let down in some way by letting agents.
As renting is now the most common type of living situation for under 35s and more people in the UK are expecting to rent for life, it’s important that the issues are addressed so things can change.
Meeting Rage with Rational Thinking – the Problems and Solutions
Bad practices can set up difficult tenancies. These are some of the main issues and suggestions for what landlords and letting agents can do about it.
Repairing Properties as well as Relationships – Clear Communication
Eight of the 30 viewings in the report were commented as being poor regarding maintenance and repairs. Letting agents were keen to brush off questions about it or simply reassure potential tenants it will be done before moving in.
According to the YouGov survey only half of those who requested repairs before signing the contract said that all of them were completed.
Tenants want more reassurance and information before moving in. Letting agents can be upfront, organised and transparent by saying not only when repairs would be done but give more details on how and what they will entail.
Heating Problems Landing Landlords in Hot Water – Be More Energy Efficient
Tenants will undoubtedly be thinking about the cost of energy bills, so they want to know about the age and quality of a property’s boiler.
With nearly two thirds of participants in the survey saying they experienced problems with plumbing or heating it means letting agents should know about the boiler or information on heating the property in the winter. This, along with key documentation on energy performance, should be passed on to the tenant.
It’s in property owners’ interests now to have a more efficient boiler and better insulated windows, for example, to keep in line with new standards on EPC ratings. Boilers are the most popular investment by landlords to improve their energy ratings which has to be a minimum of ‘E’ or they risk facing a fine of up to £5,000 per property.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms – Take Initiative with Safety Rules
In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, there is a clear rule to have carbon monoxide alarms installed in all properties. Currently, the regulation in England around CO alarms is vague and they’re only required in rooms with ‘solid fuel appliances’. Carbon monoxide can come from all gas or oil devices like boilers.
When letting agents in the report were asked about carbon monoxide detectors, only a third gave a comprehensive explanation about where they were and if they had been tested.
Some recent carbon monoxide tests have uncovered cheap, imported alarms that fail to serve their purpose by letting occupants know if there’s unsafe levels of carbon monoxide in their home.
Tenants need reliable alarms and all safety documents regarding gas and electrical safety. It only takes a minute to test an alarm.
Assist Inventories carry working alarms with a five year guarantee to all their check in’s that can be fitted there and then.
Being Truthful is Being Professional
To reduce #RentRage it’s important to not mislead tenants with the information provided to them as false advertising will come back to hurt a letting agent or landlord. Assist Inventories advises people to not leave out any details. Both parties can be provided security and cover with an extensive inventory report carried out by a professional clerk.