Those that believe there is no housing crisis in Britain typically accept that there are three main tenures available in the UK: renting from a housing association or council, homeownership or renting privately.
These are the people that assume those not locked into homeownership can move around an endless supply of private rental sector properties as they wish.
Renting from Rogue Landlords is Not a Choice for Many Tenants
But judging by recent research from housing charity Shelter, private tenants don’t really have a choice when it comes to renting from rogue landlords. In the last year, 17,000 renters called Shelter’s hotline for advice on landlord harassment. Issues included verbal abuse, threatening behaviour, having utilities cut off and even burning of personal belongings.
These stories are unsurprising, as many people that have rented privately have had difficult relationships with their landlords.
Although the number of landlords harassing tenants is small, it is not insignificant. Renters can often have no choice in who they rent from, as competition for rental property is strong.
Additionally, the relationship is often weighted in the landlord’s favour; just a small disagreement can lead to the landlord evicting the tenant, and with them potentially a family or housemates.
These revenge evictions can strike hard; imagine being told you have just five days to find a new place to live, with the person kicking you out owning the rights to the property and with it, much more capital than you.
Many argue that tenants can leave their home when their contract ends and move around freely, but this freedom is only accessible if you can raise a deposit and afford a similar home in the area. Many renters don’t.
When beds in sheds stories enter the news, homeowners may ask: Why do people choose to live like this? What they may not realise is that renters often don’t have a choice.
Tenants rarely feel equal to their landlord. Renters are fighting for accommodation due to the housing shortage, and while they compete, landlords will take advantage.
It appears that the only solution is to create a healthier relationship between landlords and tenants, and a means of this may be to increase tenants’ rights. If renting is not skewed by threatening landlords, tenants may feel they actually have a choice.