Millions of renters ‘lose deposits through ignorance of the law’

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Nov 07, 2017
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Some 43 per cent of renters were unaware that they could challenge excessive charges via an ombudsman

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Millions of tenants are unaware of the laws governing rented property and every year nearly 30 per cent lose their deposits as a result, a survey has found.

According to the research, 37 per cent of tenants and 16 per cent of landlords did not know that renters must be given at least two months’ notice before eviction.

Some 34 per cent of those in rented accommodation, about 5.8 million people, did not realise that they had the right for their deposits to be placed in a tenancy deposit protection scheme; 12 per cent of UK landlords were also unaware of that rule.

Even more renters, 43 per cent or 7.4 million people, were unaware that they could challenge any excessive charges made by a landlord via an ombudsman. Among those who lost their deposits, the average amount deducted was £825. 

And 28 per cent of tenants did not know that landlords were obliged to give 24 hours’ notice before entering a property.

Half of renters — 8.6 million people — were unaware of the law dictating that the rent charged by a landlord should be comparable to similar properties in that area and that if it was significantly above that rate it could be legally challenged.

Figures from the estate agency Knight Frank show that the number of privately rented households will rocket from the current figure of 5.4 million to 7.2 million by 2021.

“It is clear that a huge proportion of UK renters, a population growing in size, do not truly understand the legislation and regulation in place to protect them,” said Fareed Nabir, the chief executive of LetBritain, the online agency that commissioned the survey of 2,000 British adults.

He added that a “concerning number of landlords” were “in the dark about exactly what rights and responsibilities they have.

“Such a lack of awareness increases the risk of renters and landlords being exploited. It must be addressed and lettings agents certainly have a duty to better inform all their customers about the vital legislative framework governing the rental sector.”

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