Shelter's support helped me hold bad letting agency to account
Shelter's support helped me hold bad letting agency to account

When Sarah’s son was forced to leave his home after being harassed and intimidated by a letting agency, she had no idea how to help him. 

A phone call with Shelter made Sarah aware that the agency’s behaviour was illegal, and what she could do about it. Twelve months after her son was forced out, she’d brought an official complaint against the agency, winning compensation and a damning verdict on the way they had acted. 

How it started

Problems began … Read more

Rentquake – coming to a marginal seat near you?
Rentquake – coming to a marginal seat near you?

Could private renters decide the next election?

It’s a question recently raised by new Conservative think tank Onward. It highlighted that by the time of the next election, there will be 253 constituencies where more than 20% of voters are renters. That’s an increase from just 18 at the 2001 election.

We were far from surprised by this. Our own research shows that the numbers of renters is growing – and quickly. You can see what this looks like in Read more

Letting fees bill - the parliamentary journey so far
Letting fees bill - the parliamentary journey so far

Despite all the pressures that Brexit is placing on parliamentary time, the Tenant Fees Bill has been making rapid progress through parliament. While this speedy parliamentary journey may be good for moving the bill closer towards implementation, we shouldn’t forget there are still areas of the legislation (as currently drafted) that will leave private renters open to continuing exploitation.

Here’s our update on the parliamentary journey so far, which sets out the areas the government still needs to address … Read more

Low expectations and little chance of winning – private renters need more support
Low expectations and little chance of winning – private renters need more support

Renters have been through too many years of hurt, it’s time things changed. Our new research shows private renters are having to spend a massive £41bn in rents per year.

For context, this is four times the amount the government spends on affordable housing.

And (since we’re all obviously in the midst of World Cup fever) this could even buy the England squad in about a week – or the Brazil squad in a little over that if you prefer.… Read more

An introduction to housing courts
An introduction to housing courts

At last year’s Conservative Party Conference, Sajid Javid announced that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) would consult on the case for a specialist housing court. The government wanted to explore whether a new housing court could improve court processes, making it quicker and cheaper to resolve disputes – particularly for landlords and tenants.

Since this initial announcement, MHCLG has said little publicly about its plans for consultation. However, the idea of a specialist housing court has … Read more

How much?! Your top 10 worst letting fees
How much?! Your top 10 worst letting fees

There’s something to celebrate for private renters: the government’s hotly anticipated ban on letting fees is approaching its second reading. Because for too long, renters have been ripped off – shelling out £272 per person (on average) in fees. Together with our supporters, we’ve campaigned for years to stop this, so we’re delighted to see the government taking action through the Tenant Fees Bill.

Letting agents, and some landlords, aren’t quite so jubilant. Their days of charging outrageous fees are … Read more

More action needed to protect renters against unfair evictions
More action needed to protect renters against unfair evictions

Many renters in the private rented sector put up with unacceptable conditions in their homes because they are too afraid of being evicted to speak out. That’s according to the Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Select Committee. In its recently published report, the Committee called on the government to address a ‘clear power imbalance’ in parts of the sector.

A standout recommendation, amongst many welcome recommendations that could see significant improvements in the sector, is a call on … Read more

Windrush shows it's easy to fall foul of Right to Rent
Windrush shows it's easy to fall foul of Right to Rent

As the stories from people affected by the Windrush scandal continue to emerge, the government’s ‘hostile environment’ strategy faces growing scrutiny. The hostile environment – the idea of making it increasingly uncomfortable for people who are living in the UK illegally – has framed the background for many government initiatives in recent years. One of these initiatives was the Right to Rent scheme, which we had deep concerns about since its inception.

The Right to Rent threatens private landlords with … Read more

Let’s stop letting agents unfairly holding on to holding deposits
Let’s stop letting agents unfairly holding on to holding deposits

We recently shared Emily’s story which highlights just how easily holding deposits can be abused. Emily was forced to take a letting agent to court because they refused to refund a £700 holding deposit. And even though Emily won the case, the letting agent still hasn’t paid up.

The good news is that the government is now planning to cap holding deposits at one week’s rent – this is one of the proposals in the draft Tenant Fees Bill, … Read more

The government is taking action to protect private renters (part 2)
The government is taking action to protect private renters (part 2)

This is the second post in a two-part blog exploring how the government is taking action to improve protections for private renters. Part one considered the impact of the introduction of banning orders and the rogue landlord database. In this part, we turn to the issue of letting-agent regulation.

Here’s an update on the main changes for the lettings sector and what more we want to see the government doing to ensure there are no loopholes, through which letting agents … Read more

The government is taking action to protect private renters (part 1)
The government is taking action to protect private renters (part 1)

The government’s drive to improve private renting has got a spring in its step. Not only has the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) published its next steps for bringing in letting agent regulation and mandatory client money protection, but banning orders and the rogue landlord and letting agent database, as promised in the Housing and Planning Act 2016, come into force this week.

Over two blogs we’ll look at how, together with the ban on letting agent … Read more

Letting Agents admit they’ll exploit loophole in draft Tenant Fees Bill
Letting Agents admit they’ll exploit loophole in draft Tenant Fees Bill

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has published its report on the draft Tenant Fees Bill, which will ban letting fees to tenants. The Committee has been tasked with scrutinising the bill before it’s formally introduced to Parliament and making recommendations about how to strengthen it.

To help do this, the committee received evidence from a wide range of organisations, including letting agents, landlord bodies and tenant groups. We submitted written evidence and then gave oral evidence at the … Read more