A third of tenants have been evicted or threatened with eviction after complaining to their landlords
• 71% of tenants have paid for repairs themselves rather than ask their landlords
• 61% of tenants are wary about complaining to their landlords
• Damp is the number one complaint from 59% of tenants
A third of tenants (32% of 2,000 tenants surveyed) who have been evicted, or threatened with eviction, have been put in this position after making a complaint to their landlords about the condition of a property, or after asking for repairs to be carried out, according to a survey carried out by online tenant community The Tenants' Voice.
This means that a growing number of tenants are falling victim to a practice called 'Retaliatory Evictions', where landlords employ their power to evict a tenant after their statutory minimum tenancy period (under section 21 of the Housing Act), rather than undertake repairs requested by them, often in the hope that a new tenant won't complain.
The survey of UK tenants carried out by The Tenants' Voice found that renters are worried about asking their landlords to carry out repairs in fear of what the fallout might be. Seven in ten (71%) tenants have paid for repairs to a rental property out of their own pocket rather than report the problem to their landlords. And six in ten (61%) tenants polled said they had asked their landlords in the past to make repairs and that the landlords had been difficult or flatly refused to sort the problem out.
Just under two-thirds (63%) of tenants admitted they were wary about approaching their landlords because they were worried about what their reaction might be. As a result, more than half (55%) of renters admit they are living with an ongoing issue they'd like resolved, but prefer to live with the problem rather than ask their landlords to sort it out.
When it comes to the types of complaints made by tenants to their landlords, top of the list were problems associated with damp, with 58% of tenants having a damp-related issue. More than half (54%) of tenants made complaints to their landlords about the general state of disrepair of the property, while boiler repairs (36%), electrical issues (32%), and exterior and garden issues (19%) were also common complaints.
With lots of tenants fearful of talking to their landlord about a problem, unsurprisingly, 61% of tenants would prefer to talk to the letting agent that they found the property through, rather than speaking directly to the landlords.
Glenn Nickols, director, The Tenants' Voice, comments: "While 86% of tenants have never heard of retaliatory evictions according to our poll, a third of the tenants we surveyed who have been evicted or threatened with eviction have actually fallen foul of this practice.
"Landlords have a responsibility to ensure that the property they are renting is fit for purpose, and that means ensuring that any reasonable requests that are made by their tenants are dealt with promptly.
"Tenants need to feel comfortable about approaching their landlord about any issues that arise. Suffering in silence because they're worried about what their landlords might say could have potentially devastating consequences.
"If tenants are not comfortable about approaching their landlords then a good letting agent can be extremely helpful in resolving any problems, and we want to encourage a stronger relationship between letting agents and landlords, to support tenants, and ensure that repairs and property related issues are resolved quickly.
"It's clear more needs to be done to educate both landlords and tenants about their responsibilities and rights to ensure a healthy tenant-landlord relationship."
Susan Fitz-Gibbon, President of The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), comments: "If you are worried about any aspect of a tenancy, seek advice from a letting agent affiliated to a professional organization like ARLA. If your tenancy is managed by an ARLA agent, they can act as a useful mediator between yourself and the landlord.
"All ARLA licensed agents must adhere to a strict code of conduct, as well as offering client money protection and redress schemes, which protect all parties if things go wrong."