Millions of Private Tenants Experience Illegal Landlord or Agent Behaviour, Study Suggests

Rogue landlords or letting agents have always been a problem among millions of tenants. According to a housing and homelessness charity in the UK, approximately 3.7 million people are affected by their landlord or agents’ illegal behaviour. 

A YouGov study involving over 3,000 private renters revealed that landlords or agents going inside tenants’ homes without their permission or without due notice is the number one illegal behaviour renters regularly deal with. Approximately 25% of the respondents, a number that is equivalent  to around 2.1 million individuals nationwide, have reportedly experienced this behaviour.

Other issues that renters listed include problems with their water supplies, heating, smoke alarms, and other safety-related matters. Around 22%, or the equivalent of 1.8 million private tenants, listed these safety and security standards as their common concerns against rogue landlords and letting agents. 

On the other hand, about 18% of the respondents revealed that landlords and agents often fail to protect their tenancy deposits in any of the government-authorised protection schemes. This number is equivalent to approximately 1.5 million private renters.

An alarming statistic gathered from the study is the fact that there are private rental tenants, equivalent to 731,000 of them, who reported that their landlord or letting agent has harassed, threatened, or assaulted them. 

As such, the charity is diligently pushing for the inclusion of a National Landlord Register in the Renters’ Reform Bill. The register is one way of ensuring landlords and letting agents abide by their legal responsibilities. Additionally, enforcement authorities will also have a platform for getting valuable landlord intelligence. Aside from preventing rogue and illegal landlords from renting out properties, this might also be a good way of ensuring and informing tenants about their rights.

According to the charity’s chief executive, they are hoping for the Government to keep  their promise of delivering a private renting system that is fairer and more committed to administering punishments and penalties for landlords and letting agents who blatantly and (often) arrogantly display illegal behaviour, victimising innocent tenants. 

An example of illegal landlord behaviour

Here is an example of an incident where the landlord knowingly carried out  an illegal act without the tenant’s knowledge.

A self-employed mother and her two daughters moved into a private rental without any idea that the gas boiler in their bedroom was unregistered. It was her landlord who installed it without informing her. She found out about the boiler when her daughter started having headaches. They had to stop using the bedroom and had to have it checked by an engineer to verify its safety. 

The tenant reported their landlord and the incident to the council but did not get a reply. As a result of her complaint, the landlord gave them a no fault (Section 21) eviction notice, which was eventually deemed invalid. Nevertheless, the said landlord is still able to continue with their illegal practices against tenants. The tenant is hoping private renters like her had more rights to protect themselves from stressful situations caused by landlords and letting agents’ illegal behaviour.

Other problems: tenancy deposit protection

The YouGov study mentions unprotected tenancy deposits as one of the significant problems private renters experience when dealing with rogue landlords or agents. This is one of the biggest concerns of many tenants, including landlords withholding deposit refunds for no legal reason.

Every tenant is required to pay a deposit to their landlord. The amount varies according to tenancy rentals, but the maximum ranges from an equivalent of five weeks’ worth of rent or, for those with higher rental rates, an equivalent of six weeks’ worth or rent.

Deposits are for the benefit of both landlords and tenants. Landlords can use the money to pay for costs in case their tenants leave the property with damage, or if tenants violate any of the terms in the tenancy agreement. On the other hand, tenants can get back their deposit at the end of their tenancy, in full if they did not break any of the tenancy terms.

After the landlord receives the deposit, they have 30 days to register the money with any of the government-authorised deposit protection schemes: mydeposits, Deposit Protection Service, and Tenancy Deposit Scheme. If a landlord fails to protect their tenant’s deposit, the renter has the option to bring them to court for a tenancy deposit protection claim.

At the end of their tenancy, tenants are supposed to get back their deposit from their landlords. If the landlord fails to return the deposit, the tenant can file a claim. However, if the tenant left the rental property with damage, the landlord can deduct the costs from the deposit. In some cases, the landlord would withhold the deposit altogether. 

Deposit protection claims

As mentioned above, tenants can file deposit protection claims if their landlords do not protect or return their deposit. If you are planning to file one, it is important to work with a team of solicitors with expertise and experience in tenancy deposit.  
Additionally, working with a team of solicitors authorised and regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the best guarantee you can get for first-rate service. The solicitors at Tenancy Deposit Claims know how to increase your chances of getting a successful claim. They will stay with you every step of the way, no matter how challenging it may be. Get in touch with them today.

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