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It’s broke, let’s fix it

13 July 2017

With a fifth of England’s population living in the Private Rented Sector, including a growing number of families with children, it’s vital to have effective measures in place to help tenants get repairs when things go wrong. This is a basic tenet of any functioning market - it improves the overall quality of the housing stock, enforces basic standards and protects tenants’ health and safety.

It’s broke, let’s fix it [ 1.1 mb] shows that disputes over disrepair in the private rented sector are still too hard to resolve. If the market is to work fairly for the growing number of private renters, simpler ways to resolve problems are essential.

Our research finds that:

  • 41% of tenants have waited longer than is normally reasonable for repairs their landlord has a legal responsibility to carry out.

  • Only 1% of tenants who waited longer than is normally reasonable for repairs applied to court to claim compensation.

  • 31% fixed the disrepair themselves, and 13% paid for the repairs out of their own pocket.

Recommendations

  • Introduce Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) for disrepair disputes between landlords and tenants in the private rented sector.

  • Require certification that a property meets a national minimum health and safety standard before it is let out.

  • Enable tenants to leave a fixed-term contract early, without penalty, if their landlord fails to uphold their legal responsibilities.