Research reveals confusion among tenants due to Government changes

Government changes affecting the private rented sector in the UK is confusing millions of tenants, it is suggested.

Some 53% of the estimated 12 million tenants across the country don’t actually understand their rights or the new laws the Government has brought in to help them, according to a new study.

The research from online letting agent MakeUrMove has revealed tenants struggle to get their heads around some of the most common pieces of legislation associated with property rental.

It says that it is worrying that the data shows 85% of tenants don’t understand the upcoming tenant fees ban, despite widespread coverage of the impending policy.

The survey also revealed that 64% of tenants don’t understand the costs they have to pay for referencing checks, highlighting the need for greater clarity in the industry.

It adds that it is alarming that 41% of tenants said they don’t understand the Deposit Protection Scheme, with 32% also not knowing their rights for getting their deposit back, meaning tenants could be losing out on nearly £700 at the end of their tenancy.

‘While the Government is adamant that certain legislations have been brought in to protect tenants, the reality is it’s leading to additional confusion among tenants, many of whom already don’t understand their current position,’ said Alexandra Morris, managing director of MakeUrMove.

‘The fact that such a high percent of tenants still don’t understand the implications of the impending tenant fees ban, despite it potentially coming into effect within the next few months, is particularly worrying,’ she pointed out.

The research also found that 56% were unsure who was responsible for looking after their home’s garden, 59% about decorating their rented home, 45% about undertaking minor replacements and 40% about even cleaning the property.

‘As letting agents, we have a duty to educate both tenants and landlords about their rights and responsibilities, this is something made much more complex by ever changing regulations. The impact of these new regulations and lack of understanding of tenant rights is also making life much harder for landlords, particularly the accidental and smaller landlords that make up a large proportion of the private rented sector,’ Morris explained.

‘They regularly have to seek advice when they, and their tenants don’t understand requirements, and they are being forced to pass on their increased costs to tenants through rent rises,’ she said.

She also pointed out that there is a market failure in housing and because of a rush to try to fix it, with piecemeal and ‘ill thought out policy changes rather than a whole of market strategy’, tenants have been left confused and bearing the brunt of the impact.

‘To truly give every tenant a good home, the private rental process needs simplifying and professionalising, so it works for everyone, and to ensure both tenants and landlords understand their roles and responsibilities,’ she concluded.