Myth Busting Private Rent

There are a lot of myths and misconseptions about private renting out there, often peddled by landlords that hover around our comment sections. We asked private renters what the biggest misconseptions around renting they had encountered were, and these were your resonses along with our own comments on the matter.

1) “Renters have a choice about where they live” or “They can just move if they don’t like the landlord”

Renters are like everybody else – we have family, friends and communities we belong to. We also have jobs and careers and are often restricted in where we have to live. If renters are unfortunate enough to be tied into areas with few options to rent in, that gives landlords a great deal of power. Often, we cannot simply move to another property if we dislike how we are being treated, if repairs are not done or if rent is expensive. If you rely on benefits this means that you will struggle to find somewhere with a landlord that will accept you and even if you can find somewhere to move to, moving costs combined with the funds for a new deposit make this an impossible option for many. Renters also often feel as though we have to be very compliant because Section 21 ‚Äòno fault’ evictions make us vulnerable to revenge evictions, meaning that many won’t ask their landlords to make repairs they are legally entitled to. Lots of landlords say renters should simply move somewhere else if they are fed-up with their treatment, but this is often risky, not practical or downright impossible.

2) “Because revenge evictions are illegal they don’t happen”

Many landlords and other members of the public site laws such as the 2015 Deregulation Act to argue that tenants are now safe from revenge evictions. However, this is not the case. First off, many renters do not know the rights they are entitled to. In a survey conducted in February 2021, we found that almost 3/4 private renters did not know if their home needed a licence and only about half (56%) said they were aware the extension of the notice period landlords have to give to their tenants in an eviction had been extended from two to six months. Even when tenants do know their rights, few have the time and money to challenge illegal evictions. Although the rise of tenant unions such as Acorn, London Renters’ Union and Greater Manchester Renters’ Union has empowered renters a great deal more – the fact is renters remain vulnerable to revenge evictions.

3) “Renters can just negotiate different terms in their tenancy agreement”

The bulk of the power still remains with landlords. Because of the coronavirus, in some parts of the country, especially Greater London, the demand for rent is dropping.This means renters here have more chance of successfully renegotiating different terms or rents with landlords. The main bargaining power renters have is the threat of leaving if the landlord refuses to make concessions, especially when they would have to pay to advertise the property, miss out on rent for several weeks and then (thanks to the letting fees ban) cover the cost of starting the new tenancy. you can find more about this here. However, there is yet to be a drop in rent prices nationally, in fact rent prices rose in 2020, despite the economic crisis we are in. Landlords are under no obligation to change contracts for the benefit of renters and renters have very little bargaining power except threatening to walk away, which can be a risky strategy if there aren’t many rented properties around them to move into.

3) “More people are choosing to rent”

There are certainly some conveniances around renting, however this does not mean that it is currently something people prefer. Renters should feel secure in their homes like everybody else. Homeownership is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve. Not enough affordable houses are being built, wages are being cut and redundancies are up because of the pandemic. The fastest growing demographic of renters is over 55s. All of these things mean that renting is no longer just a temporary facet of young people’s lives – for many it’s a long-term or permanent way of living. And this trend looks only to speed up in the years to come. The current system is built around a false idea that renting is a short-term solution before homeownership. It needs to change, so that renters can make their houses into homes. For that, they need a secure and dependable place to live.

4) “Landlords can’t get away with false deposit claims”

It can be frustrating for renters when facing the end of a tenancy. End of tenancy cleaning i particular is important for receiving your full deposit – more than half of deposit disputes feature insufficient cleaning as part of or the whole reason behind them. The landlord cannot force tenants to use any cleaning company, or a cleaning service at all and they can only request the same level of hygiene as it was documented on the move in inventory report. Neither can they expect anything to be replaced or repaired if it was in that condition when you moved in.

There are a number of ways to protect yourself from losing money. You should thoroughly check your inventory report, to make sure everything on it is correct. When you move-in to a property, check that everything is clean and in the same condition as per the check-in report claims. If something is not, make a note on the inventory and report this to the landlord promptly. You must also take time-stamped photos of anything you consider broken or dirty and immediately send them to your landlord, making sure to keep all correspondents saved or secured safely. You should also take some general photos of all of the rooms for good measure.

If your landlord still wants to charge you cleaning fees for something you think is unfair, you can dispute it. The deposit will remain protected by the scheme until resolved. This means that often, after calling their bluff, landlords will just let the case go. So it is worth cleaning a property before moving out. However, some landlords will try to keep money from deposits that they are not entitled to, and because renters often need their deposits back for the deposit on their new home, they cannot afford to dispute these claims.

We’re campaigning for tenants to get the ability to transfer their deposits between tenancies which will make it harder for landlords to make unfair deductions. Join us here.


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Individual Advice

Generation Rent can’t offer advice about individual problems. Here are a few organisations that can:

You might also find quick but informal help on ACORN’s Facebook forum, and there are more suggestions on The Renters Guide.