51% of UK renters unhappy with landlords and agents

Over half (51%) of renters in the private sector have had bad experiences of letting agents and landlords, a new survey has revealed.

According to The Tenants' Voice, an online resource for people in rented accommodation, 37% of renters wouldn't rent another property from their current landlord or agent.

And 46% of the 2,000 people who responded reported having had disputes over deposits with agents and landlords.

The survey found that tenants were especially dissatisfied with the service they received from letting agents who managed properties on behalf of landlords.

Almost seven in 10 (69%) said the service from letting agents was at best average when it came to carrying out general maintenance, with more than a third (36%) saying letting agents were poor at keeping the property in good order.

More than four in 10(42%) said letting agents were poor or very poor at responding to issues or emergencies, while a quarter of tenants (25%) rated letting agents poor or very poor in terms of being accessible and easy to contact.

Over a third (36%) said letting agents were poor or very poor at providing clear deadlines, and more than half (55%) said agents were poor or very poor at actively listening to what tenants needed.

Asked about the quality of their rented accommodation, almost four in 10 (39%) said properties were generally tired and in need of updating, with 17% saying they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the overall condition of the properties they had rented.

On termination of a contract, only 57% said their tenancies had ended amicably with their landlord or letting agent.

One in seven (14%) revealed they had never had a tenancy that had ended on friendly terms, with 15% admitting that less than half of their rentals had ended on friendly terms.

With rents rising due to demand outstripping supply, the majority of tenants surveyed said they are finding living in rented accommodation harder than it was two to three years ago. 
Almost two thirds (63%) admitted it was harder or much harder to rent now than in the past. Tenants said this was due largely to the rising cost of renting, the rising cost of living and the increase in numbers of tenants looking for rented accommodation.

On the subject of letting agent fees, tenants were asked what fees were reasonable for a letting agent to charge. 
Four in ten said letting agents shouldn’t be charging tenants any fees at all. However, 18% considered charging a holding fee acceptable and 11% said registration fees were reasonable.

Tenants were also asked about landlord and letting agents being officially accredited. More than half (57%) said they considered it important that their landlord or letting agent was accredited by an organisation or letting agent focused scheme.

Glenn Nickols, director of The Tenants’ Voice, said: “It’s clear there’s still much to be done to improve the relationship between tenants, landlords and letting agents. This is especially important as more and more people are facing or choosing to rent longer term. 

“At The Tenants’ Voice, we want to see letting agents and landlords who are committed to providing fair, value-for-money services, working with informed tenants to turn these figures around and to see an increase in tenant satisfaction.

“Rent is the biggest monthly outgoing tenants have and it often prohibits many from being able to save for their own homes. To have more than half of this community dissatisfied and disillusioned with what they get for that monthly investment is clearly not an acceptable situation.”