Is the future bleak for renters?

publication date: Sep 3, 2015
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

Is the future bleak for renters?

For a while now we have been hearing about ‘generation rent’ and the terrible time they are having.

And it’s true that there are some areas where things are bleak at the moment, such as zones two and three in London where it’s pretty tough to find anything to rent for less than £1,000 a month for one person, meaning a cost of £12k in rent and another £5k a year in council tax, utility bills, insurance etc so total costs of £17k, quite hard to afford on a decent salary, but impossible to meet on £6.50 minimum wage. So anyone on this kind of wage is still going to have to spend around £6k a year just renting a room, or stay at home with mum and dad.

Also we know that renting rates are on the rise for those looking to move, mainly because wages are heading upwards too, but that’s for some, not everyone.

So is there no hope for renters in todays and the future years?
Well there is finally some good news on the horizon for renters, especially those in London:-

London Rental Standard

This is a great initiative supported by the London Mayor and helps tenants to know what to look for to find a good landlord. Visit their website to find out more. 

Better still it gives landlords fantastic training at a very small cost to make sure you know what’s legal or not and keep you up to date with the law. Find out more about what you need to know from dealing with damp to complying with the Housing Health and Safety Rating System and the nice thing is I’ve been working with them to help produce some great films: for you:-

Watch their guides to damp and how to keep up with legislation.

Lettings legal enforcement is starting to come
One of the biggest problems for the lettings industry is the ‘good guys’ are complying with the legislation, but the bad ones aren’t and tenants don’t know what to look for often being told that ‘all landlords are bad’; all letting agents will ‘rip you off’ and properties are all in a ‘rubbish condition’.

Newham Borough Council are doing a great job at making sure bad landlords are being prosecuted, weeding out some pretty terrible landlords, leaving the good ones to rent to tenants. Find out about the 580 landlords who have been prosecuted so far at Landlord Property licensing.

Easy checklist for tenants and landlords
In addition, the good news is there are good landlords and letting agents out there, you just need to do a few checks yourself before renting:-

Read our tenant checklist on making sure there is an EPC, a gas safety and ideally an electrical safety certificate and your deposit is protected in a government approved scheme such as the TDS.

And even the government is starting to love a checklist! Here is their latest How to Rent Guide.

New build to rent projects – for tenants only!
There are many properties out there that are tough to maintain by landlords for tenants. This is mainly because a lot of the property stock bought for rental is pretty old, usually pre 1945.

Now though, there are specific new builds just for tenants, charged at market rent, rather than the normal 10% premium a new build property would attract. For example, there are another 1,000 new homes coming on stream in 2017/18 across London and there are others being built across the UK, including in areas such as Bristol.

But there are already great companies offering built to rent schemes which are built differently to normal homes and you can rent individually or with a friend with long term contracts, if you want them. Visit for more information of the types of companies and properties to look out for. These come from long term, professional landlords, rather than individual landlords who rent one or two homes and don’t necessarily keep up with the law or maintenance.

These properties are already being built around the rest of the country too – bar Scotland where the uncertainty of rent controls being introduced has already impacted adversely on investment in new PRS homes.  

Letting agents – now have to be members of a redress scheme so you can complain for free
This is a great scheme which has worked well in the estate agent industry. Basically all letting agents in England have to belong to a redress scheme, like The Property Ombudsman Scheme.

This means if a letting agent, in your view, over charges you as a tenant, then you can complain to the agent, if they do nothing or you aren’t happy, then you can complain, free of charge, to the redress scheme. If the agent is a member, they are acting illegally so you can report them and they will be dealt with which may mean being fined £5k or thrown out of the scheme, meaning they can’t operate.

Better quality room rents
Finally, for those renting rooms, the market has completely changed. Now you can rent rooms which are like boutique hotels, for a great price and with beautiful kitchens and often en-suites too.

Why tenants can look forward to a bright future
So there are lots of reasons for tenants to be happy in the future:-

  1. Newly built stock just for you
  2. Better enforcement so you don’t rent from a rogue
  3. Smarter landlords, both large and small who give a great service and great homes/rooms to rent
  4. Rents which typically move in line with wages, not inflation
  5. Ability to complain for free about letting agents

But you also need to do your bit and make sure you check properties, letting agents and landlords out before you rent. Yes a letting agent may have the best property for you, but if they charge in excess of £200 fees outside of London or £300 fees within, then why would you let through them and pay over the odds?

Also DON’T accept poor properties. If there is damp in the property, don’t go for it. If there is a boiler and no gas safety certificate, or one isn’t provided on the day you move in, run away!

All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner, author of Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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