UK tenants afraid to ask landlords for home improvements

UK tenants afraid to ask landlords for home improvements

UK tenants are living in poor-quality homes, fearing any complaints or requests for improvements will be met with retaliatory action from their landlord. Build-to-rent aims to address these issues.

Summary

  • Many UK tenants are too afraid to request improvements to their rental property
  • Tenants are choosing to live in dangerously cold homes, rather than requesting their landlord carry out energy efficiency improvements to their property
  • The housing white paper, published earlier this month, aims to address such issues within the private rented sector, improving the quality of properties available to tenants

 

An increasing number of UK tenants living in the private rented sector (PRS) are too afraid to request improvements to their rented property, out of fear of retaliatory action from their landlord.

A study carried out by Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) found a number of tenants are choosing to live in cold homes out of fear of high heating bills and losing their tenancy.

Under the Energy Act (2011), tenants are able to request consent from their landlords to carry out energy efficiency improvements to properties. The landlord cannot unreasonably refuse consent.

The majority of tenants however, felt too afraid to approach their landlord, despite living in energy inefficient properties that are simply unaffordable to heat. Instead many tenants are living in dangerously cold homes and taking combative measures such as wearing coats inside, rationing heating and spending extra time outside the house.

The study also revealed a number of respondents had suffered from chronic health conditions, such as respiratory diseases and arthritis, known to be exacerbated by cold homes.

Dr Aimee Ambrose, Senior Research Fellow at CRESR, commented: “The picture emerging from the accounts of respondents is one characterised by limited housing choice that leads to the acceptance of poor quality properties that would otherwise be unacceptable, to fear of challenging the landlord in case of retaliatory action, to enduring cold conditions and high bills, and to suffering the consequences for health and wellbeing.”

In a bid to tackle growing tenant demand and address standards within the PRS, the government has now outlined major reforms to the UK’s rental sector. The housing white paper, published earlier this month plans to increase the construction of purpose-built rental properties.

Designed specifically with the occupant in mind, these purpose-built properties will provide tenants with properly managed, high-quality homes, with the option for long-term tenancy, offering the much needed security and quality that is currently missing from the PRS.

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