Generation Rent supporter Katie tells us about the impossibility of making their house into a home in the current private rental market.
I have been renting all my adult life and have never had a ‘good’ landlord. Every single one has dragged their heels on essential repairs or outright refused to do them (until I’ve contacted the local authority for them to enforce an improvement notice, which I’ve done several times in my life). And a couple have served Section 21 no-fault eviction notices rather than make any improvements to their properties.
Landlords don’t care if your boiler is broken, if there’s no heating or hot water (even in winter), if there’s such severe mould that it’s causing health issues, if the property is infested with lice, if the electricity is so unsafe that it’s a risk just turning on your kitchen taps, if the roof is leaking so badly that a whole room is out of action whenever it rains, or if locks are so broken that anyone can walk into your property.
Yes, I’ve experienced all of these issues and more, and I have simply no choice but to endure these uncaring landlords. As long as I’m paying my rent in full and on time, they really don’t care about your living conditions, and they definitely don’t want to fix anything if it’ll cost them any money. People often say “just stop paying your rent until it’s fixed” but that puts you at huge risk of being evicted with no protection. And there’s always the worry that if you complain too much about outstanding repairs then you might be served an eviction notice anyway. Again, with no protection because it’s legal for a landlord to evict you without a valid reason.
If landlords were living in these properties in such disrepair themselves they wouldn’t put up with the problems but no-one is holding landlords accountable so they can get away with it. A national register of landlords would be a good start – it would mean renters could make a more informed decision about whether to rent from a certain person, and the landlord would be forced to make properties safe and habitable before renting them out to anyone. And a ban on Section 21 evictions would mean that renters would feel more confident at asking for repairs. For me personally, it would mean I could finally start calling somewhere home; I would no longer fear being evicted at any time and could start to relax, settle somewhere and feel that it would be my home for as long as I needed it.