We’re all used to hearing horror stories of shocking rental conditions, but what are the worst issues facing London’s tenants today?
Rental homes brand Tipi has completed a survey amongst almost 20,000 of London’s tenants. The findings lay bare the abysmal state of the rental market in one of the world’s wealthiest cities.
We have assessed each of the issues, explaining how you, as a landlord, can prevent such conditions in your own rental properties (whether in London or elsewhere).
Rajesh Shah, the Managing Director of Tipi, says: “We absolutely expected that there would be plenty of renters out there with tales of woe. What we didn’t anticipate was nearly 20,000 respondents, each with a unique and disturbing experience of renting, the majority in London. In simple terms, renting in London is broken for too many people. Now, we want to shed light on the rental community’s experiences and let Londoners know that there is another way!”
Top 5 issues facing London’s tenants
- Health concerns
- Deposit issues
- Problem landlords
Let’s start with the number one complaint from London’s tenants:
Tenants reported having mouse, rat, cockroach and wasp infestations in their properties, which many had to pay to resolve themselves, due to “disinterested landlords”.
One tenant, Liberty, had so many cockroaches in her home that everything had to be kept in sealed plastic boxes. A cockroach even fell from the ceiling into her dinner on one occasion!
Elsewhere in the capital, Megan lived in a property with such a bad damp issue that the bathroom walls grew mushrooms. Mikala, meanwhile, had to share the single room she rented with so many mice that her partner even spotted one running across the single bed that they were sharing.
Top tip: Always respond to reports of mould/damp and infestations as quickly as possible, to ensure that your tenants are living in safe and comfortable conditions. This useful guide will help you prevent mould and damp.
According to Trust for London, 13% of social rental households and 11% of private rental households in the capital are overcrowded. Both figures are more than double the rate for other parts of England.
Tipi’s survey certainly backed up the findings. One tenant reported sharing a four-bedroom warehouse with nine people.
Another told of the morning that two girls arrived at her door, ready to move in. The landlord had forgotten the existing tenants and signed a lease with two new ones. As the new tenants moved in, the existing ones were decamped to the basement. Unfurnished, and with limited electricity, no kitchen and a barely working toilet, it was a grim experience. A flood the following week that damaged all of the tenants’ belongings was the final straw.
Top tip: You must always know who is living in your property. As it is your responsibility to avoid overcrowding, conduct regular periodic inspections to ensure that your tenants aren’t moving more people into the property.
All tenants want to feel safe and secure in their homes, however, this can be far from the case for some.
Carys was paying £999 per month when she found that her front door wouldn’t close or lock properly. She contacted her letting agent, only to find that the door’s second lock had failed two days later. The landlord left it a further three days before fixing the front door, meaning that Carys had to barricade the door shut in the meantime.
Other tenants reported issues ranging from other people having access to their properties, to landlords and tradespeople making unannounced visits.
Top tip: Although you must complete maintenance issues within an adequate timeframe, remember that you must give at least 24 hours’ written notice to your tenants to visit the property.
Security of tenure is another big issue for London’s tenants, with current legislation offering no protection for those whose landlords suddenly decide to sell their properties. In some cases, tenants who have lived in a property for years have been given just a few weeks’ notice to pack up and leave, despite having been model tenants.
Top tip: When serving a Section 21 notice on your tenants, remember to use the correct procedure.
The law may require landlords to place their tenants’ deposits in a Government-approved protection scheme, but not all landlords are as keen to hand back deposits to their tenants as they should be.
Many of London’s tenants have had to fight to get their deposits back, while some have lost them entirely.
Top tip: Remember that a tenant’s deposit is their money, not yours, and you should only make deductions if you can prove that they have caused loss or damage to your property. This guide explains everything you need to know about deposit protection.
Juliet’s landlord refused to tackle the mould problem in the shared house she rented. The situation became so bad that her possessions began growing mould of their own, with everything from shoes to clothes to bedding having to be thrown out as a result.
Paul’s landlord wouldn’t respond to calls, texts or emails when the key broke off in the front door lock on the Saturday morning that he was due to move into a new rental property. He had to move into a friend’s home with all of his belongings for the next few days. When the landlord finally called back at 11am on the following Monday, she simply explained that she “didn’t work weekends”.
Other Londoners have reported everything from unfixed maintenance issues to broken heating to a fallen-in roof. However, it was Paul who reported the creepiest tale of a problem landlord. The four-bedroom flat that he rented with three strangers cost each of them £650 per month. It took months for the flatmates to realise that the regular, mysterious disappearance of their underwear was due to the landlord letting himself in and going through their drawers, before helping himself to their smalls. When finally caught and confronted, the landlord claimed that he was just checking their washing machine was cleaning their clothes properly.
Top tip: Always communicate effectively with your tenants and remember that your rental property is their home; it should be safe, secure and comfortable. Being a good landlord will improve the overall performance of your property portfolio.