Shelter Raise Awareness of Rogue Landlords

publication date: Apr 13, 2011
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

Shelter Raise Awareness of Rogue Landlords

According to a latest report from Shelter, a charity that works to alleviate the distress caused by homelessness and bad housing, ‘renting a home can be a risky business’ and they sight ‘rogue landlords’ as a reason for this who they claim “continue to get away with harassing tenants and letting out homes in an appalling condition.”

Their latest figures suggest that this is on the rise, with “complaints to Shelter advice services about landlords have increased by 23 per cent in the last year.” And that from an online YouGov survey, approximately “1 million Britons have been the victim of a scam involving a private tenancy or landlord in the last three years.”

Shelter claim “Unfortunately rogue landlords don’t come with a warning sign and even the savviest of tenants get ripped off.  Finding an honest landlord who lets out a decent home shouldn’t be about luck or guesswork: tenants should be able to make informed choices.”

Kate Faulkner, MD of Designs on Property says “it is a real shame that despite all the legal changes imposed by the last government that rogue landlords still exist”. Kate goes on to say “many tenants just think you look at a house, pay a deposit, move in and live happily ever after. Unfortunately few realise that there are essential checks that need to be made both on the property and on the person you are renting from”.

In Kate’s view, the key problem is that tenants don’t do enough due diligence when renting a property and the industry (letting agents, landlords etc) don’t spend anywhere near enough time educating tenants.

Kate also says “I do have a concern over the Shelter report. It states that approximately one million Britons have been the victim of a scam’ yet this isn’t necessarily true. It is from a YouGov survey of a few thousand people. Previous surveys by Shelter, for example for tenant deposit problems, have proved that the issues haven’t been as widespread as they believe”.

Kate believes all tenants can make three simple checks when renting a home to avoid a rogue landlord:-

  1. Ask if you can see the Energy Performance Certificate for the property – it’s illegal to rent a property on the open market without one, whether a private landlord or a letting agent. It also has the advantage of letting you know what you’re likely utilities are going to be!
  2. Check with the landlord/letting agent which tenancy deposit scheme they will protect your deposit in. If they say they don’t take a deposit, but take two months’ rent instead, or give other reasons or if they don’t know the answer immediately to where your deposit will be protected or haven’t heard of any of the schemes, then do more checks – or walk away as it’s illegal to take a deposit and not protect your deposit in one of the three schemes
  3. Ask to see a copy of the current gas safety certificate on the property and ideally an electrical one too, or only sign a contract subject to the gas/electricity safety certificates being carried out prior to you moving in and any work required done before you move in.

Other ways of protecting yourself as a tenant from rogue landlords is to:-

Rent from an ARLA or NALs registered letting agent or one of the landlords that belongs to (and can prove) either the National Landlord Association or the Residential Landlord Association or indeed any of the local authority accredited landlord schemes.

For more information on avoiding Rogue and Fake Landlords visit 15 ways for Tenants to Spot a Fake Landlord

To help make sure you rent a property properly, why not purchase our Tenants' Property Pack - includes three month's FREE 1:1 support and a FREE Which? Renting and Letting Book!

Need help with a property problem? Have a question? Why not call Designs on Property on 07585 897128 or Contact Us via email.
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