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Settled and safe: a renter’s right

Citizens Advice is running a campaign throughout 2015 and 2016 aimed at improving the private rented sector.*

In the last year Citizens Advice has advised clients on over 160,500 private rented sector issues. That's 440 enquiries every day, for people hit by issues from illegal eviction to harassment to lost deposits and struggling to secure the most basic repairs.

The private rental sector remains a market in which consumers are woefully under-protected. We want this to change. We don't see why renters should expect anything less than the protections consumers take for granted elsewhere - repairs that get done, systems to protect them from cowboys, refunds when things go badly wrong.

We are campaigning for better protections for private renters:

  1. No renter should ever have to pay excessive and inexplicable fees for the basic services a letting agent provides. We want to see an end to extortionate fees levied on renters by letting agents. 

    Campaign success!! All letting agent fees to be banned for tenants. This was announced in the Autumn Statement on Thursday 23 November 2016. This is fantastic news and we will be lobbying for the ban to come into force as soon as possible. A big thank you to those of you who have been campaigning on letting agent practices for clients over the years.

  2. No renter should be at the mercy of rogue landlords who consistently break the rules, taking deposits unlawfully, harassing tenants or renting substandard homes. We want to see all local authorities in England set up a register of landlords that tackles the specific problems in their area. 

    Latest: New Act includes welcome measures to tackle rogue landlords, but we think protections could be further strengthened

    • New database of rogue landlords introduced in the Housing and Planning Act will come into effect next year as well as powers to impose civil penalties up to £30,000

    • We believe that renters should be as empowered in the private rental sector as they are in other consumer markets. Prospective tenants should be able to check with their local authority whether a landlord is included on the database. At the very least, we’d like to see the database made available to agencies that support disadvantaged and vulnerable people into housing to ensure their safety

  3. No renter should ever be left out of pocket after renting a home which proves to be dangerous or uninhabitable. We want tenants to be entitled to rent refunds where the property they're living in is dangerous or not fit to live in. 

    Latest: New Act includes measures to allow tenant refunds when things go wrong, but they need support

    • Extension of Rent Repayment Orders (RRO) introduced in the Housing and Planning Act should help tenants seek redress when things go wrong with their property, although it’s unreasonable to expect tenants with no legal expertise to take their cases to a tribunal.

    • We are calling for a tenant’s local housing authority to have a duty to help with rent repayment order applications.

  4. No renter should be evicted simply for complaining about bad conditions. 

    Latest: Important legislation introduced, monitoring compliance with the new law

    • From 1 October 2015, the Deregulation Act 2015 makes retaliatory evictions unlawful.
  5. No renter should ever lose their home at a moment's notice. We want all tenants to get reasonable notice before having to move out, even when caught up in a landlord's eviction. 

    Latest: Landlords must alert the deposit payer if trying to recover a property through new abandonment code

    • Landlords who want to make use of the new abandonment code to evict tenants will have to notify whoever paid the deposit for the property if this was not the tenant themselves – a relative, a charity or a housing assocation, for example. The deposit payer can stop the eviction process immediately by confirming the property has not been abandoned, acting as safeguard for a tenant who may for whatever reason be unable to respond directly to the landlord. 

    • What about tenants who paid their own deposits?  We’ve seen an increase in the number of enquiries relating to harassment and illegal evictions, raising concerns that many more vulnerable tenants will still be deemed to have abandoned their home and will be evicted without a formal court procedure

*Please note: This is an England-only campaign as the laws around housing are different in Wales. If you are based in Wales, please visit the Wales-focused research and campaigns pages to find out how to take action.