Image for Revolutionising renting: five ways to improve the system for UK tenants

Revolutionising renting: five ways to improve the system for UK tenants

A bad public review is a strong deterrent for some landlords, but how else can renting in the UK be improved?

A bad public review is a strong deterrent for some landlords, but how else can renting in the UK be improved?

1. Protect deposits

Landlords typically request deposits of between one and two months’ rent. They are required to place your payment with one of three government-backed deposit agencies, which guarantee you its return as long as you have met the terms of your tenancy agreement. Disputes over damage are common, so renters should complete a thorough inventory before moving in.

Image: Fabian Blank

2. Longer, protected tenancies

Two or even three-year contracts are common across Europe, yet the UK norm is of six to 12 months. The UK government is considering a shift to three-year contracts as standard (with a six-month break clause). The move could give renters confidence to “challenge poor property standards” without the fear of their tenancies not being renewed, says the government.

Image: Elena Koycheva

3. Cap rent rises

Over 43 per cent of UK private tenants currently spend more than 30 per cent of their pay on rent, compared with 11 per cent of people with a mortgage. To prevent this spiralling further, some campaigners want rent increases to be capped in line with inflation. A more radical proposal is to allow local authorities to determine ‘fair’ levels of rent, as was the case before the 1988 Housing Act.

Image: Ken Treloar

4. Abolish letting fees

Renting a property is fraught with hidden costs, chief among which are letting fees. At an average of £272, according to Shelter, these charges can cover everything from credit checks to references and even inventories. Under the Tenant Fees Bill, introduced to parliament in May 2018, letting agents were banned from ‘double charging’ tenants. In Scotland, supplementary letting fees were banned back in 2011.

Image: Evelyn Paris

5. Support tenants’ associations

The theory behind independent tenants’ associations? To give a collective voice to people with the same landlord. By law, landlords have to give registered associations information (if requested) about service charge costs, plus notice about any proposed major works. Recent changes to legislation introduce rules to make sure tenants’ associations are genuinely independent and not stuffed with landlords’ representatives.

Image: Dan Gold

Featured image: Joss Woodhead

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