Call made for new review into tenancy contracts

Call made for new review into tenancy contracts

A call has been made for the Government to launch a review into tenancy agreements, as part of an ongoing investigation into the letting sector.

The request was made by Which? and followed its study of the market, which entailed gathering evidence from 2,500 tenants of their experiences in finding, living in and moving on from rented accommodation.

The consumer watchdog had the some of the tenancy agreements scrutinised by a lawyer and found them to be unclear in the language used and including clauses that might be considered to be unfair. Among these were banning tenants from changing to a new utility provider and making them liable for costs that were the responsibility of the landlord.

The Which? study also highlighted cases where tenants were reluctant to report property issues for fear of how their landlord might react. This resulted in half of the study’s participants saying they had performed or paid for repairs themselves, with 23 per cent specifically stating the reason for this being to avoid problems with the landlord.

Which? has called for measures to tackle these issues, including the registration of landlords with the local authority and the formation of an independent regulation body for lettings and management agents, with the power to issue robust penalties in cases of rogue operators.

The review into tenancy contracts has been suggested to find out how widespread “unfair, inaccurate or misleading terms or conditions” are within the sector, with the Competition and Markets Authority to assert its power if necessary.

The chief economist for Which?, Rocio Concha, said: “Our comprehensive look at the experiences of tenants exposes the failings in a rental sector that has failed to keep pace with changes in society that have made renting a long-term reality – rather than just a stepping stone – for millions of people.

“The Government must tackle the issues we have identified in our report head on, to ensure the rental market delivers for consumers.”