A local renter, Laura, tells us about some of her renting experiences and what ethical lettings would mean for her.
“ I have been living in Bearwood and Smethwick as a renter for about the last 6 years. I have lived in mainly shared houses as it is so expensive to rent. The first house I rented was a small 2 bedroom terraced house which is typical of Bearwood. It was through a letting agent. We paid between the 3 of us sharing about £400 in the various fees from the letting agent and had to sign a contract on a 6 monthly basis, despite the landlord (who we never met) saying that she wanted to let it out for a long time, we could not get a longer tenancy. It cost us an extra £50 every 6 months.
The house, when looking around looked great and just what we were after. Shortly after moving in, I hung a towel up on the rail in the bathroom, and the whole rail fell off the wall because the plaster was so wet from damp, and that set the tone for the rest of our stay!
We put the boiler on- the inside set on fire, and we were without a boiler for much of November (but still expected to pay full rent), the stairs split and had a huge gap in them, the radiators didn't work, and the agents sent workmen with spare keys without asking us; we once woke up to a bloke in our room! The agents were invasive, checked the house on a 3 monthly basis, very often without bothering to get notice. We just wished they were so forthright in getting the various problems fixed!
Despite all this, we loved our little house, and just as it was beginning to look like all of the problems were fixed, we were given our 8 weeks notice, and the house was put up for sale.”
ACORN's Ethical Lettings charter being adopted by Sandwell Council and letting agents could mean...
- no more fees for tenants
- repairs would be done to a high standard and in a timely way
- 24 hour notice would have to be given for entry
- proper gas safety checks would be available at the beginning of your tenancy
- tenancies would be a minimum of 12 months
This would have improved things vastly for people like Laura.