Renting families want longer tenancies, says charity

Wednesday 4th January 2017

Equivalent to 1.5 million family households currently living in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) would like a longer tenancy agreement, according to Citizens Advice.
The charity reports that 39% of people living with their children in the PRS have a tenancy of six months or less and that 39% of renting families would like their tenancy to be longer. 
Family renters now make up almost 4 in 10 households in the PRS, and Citizens Advice says that in 2016 nearly 75,000 people in England contacted the charity for advice on problems ranging from repairs and maintenance to letting agents and evictions.
The charity commissioned a survey - carried out by YouGov - of over 2,000 renters in England and found that many feel 'insecure' in their homes.
Some 59% of those taking part said knowing they may be asked to move out at short notice makes it difficult to plan for the future.
Meanwhile, 35% felt that if they were asked to leave their property, their current notice period would not give them enough time to find alternative accommodation.
Almost half indicated that they would prefer not to move between properties as often as they currently do. 
The survey also questioned renters on the standard of their housing - 79% of those renting with children said they have experienced problems with the quality of their home (including rodent infestations, broken heating and no hot water.)
Over half had experienced problems with damp or mould, 28% had windows or doors which didn't lock properly and 20% said they had faulty wiring.
In the majority of cases, the landlord addressed the problem within a month, with the problem taking longer than a month to resolve in 27% of instances.
Half of renters who spent money on fixing a problem themselves were refunded by their landlord. 
“The challenges of living in the private rented sector can be even more acute for people with children,” says chief executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy.
“Families are living under a cloud of uncertainty - not knowing when they might need to leave their home. This can make planning for the future, such as where your child can go to school, a real struggle. Many families who are now enjoying the Christmas break may have to move out of their home before the summer holidays start.”
“While there are signs of progress - such as the ban letting agent fees - action is needed to improve security of tenure for private tenants as well as the quality of private rented homes.”

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