Citizens Advice responds to Secretary of State’s announcement of private rented sector changes
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has today announced that it will be compulsory for private rented sector landlords to sign up to a redress scheme - and that there will be a consultation on a new housing court.
Earlier this year Citizens Advice called for the introduction of a free, mandatory and independent way for tenants to make complaints - also known as alternative dispute resolution - across the private rented sector.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“Renters living in squalid or unsafe homes have limited options when landlords let them down.
“Tenants whose landlords dispute the need for essential repairs or improvements often end up having to pay out of their own pocket - and some fear being evicted in retaliation. Currently the time, complexity and cost of taking a rogue landlord to court means that this is a route taken by just 1 in 100 private tenants.
“For people paying high rents for homes in a poor condition there needs to be an easier and cheaper option to be heard - which is why it’s welcome that the government has recognised the need for renters to have access to a redress scheme, bringing it into line with other consumer markets. It's important that the scheme is free to access and available for any type of dispute.”
Citizens Advice is also calling for it to be a requirement that properties meet a national minimum health and safety standard before a landlord can let it out.
Among the renters who have sought Citizens Advice’s help:
One family who asked Citizens Advice for help had spent £10,000 of their own money fixing a range of issues in their home, including a broken heating system, after repeated complaints to their landlord failed.
One man’s health and belongings were damaged by damp in his property. When no action was taken by his landlord to repair the property, he withheld rent, only to find he’d been issued an eviction notice.
Notes to editors
- The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
- The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
- To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
- You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
- Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
- Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.