The majority (60%) of UK flatsharers have been involved in a dispute with a landlord over their tenancy deposit, and only a third (31%) of Brits are aware of their rights as renters, according to research by Weroom.com.
The poll found that 57% of British flatsharers had felt intimidated by their landlord or agency, and 15% revealed they had ‘given in’ during a dispute to avoid further confrontation with the landlord.
The survey also found that the most common deposit disputes were related to damage (70%), maintenance (68%) and cleaning (30%) of the property with those flatsharing in London (37%) the most commonly affected by deposit disputes.
Of those polled, 71% revealed that they had lost deposit money in situations they deemed not to be their fault, with almost a quarter (22%) stating that they were still dealing with a deposit dispute a year after leaving the property.
Over half of Brits (57%) complained that their landlords did not put their deposit into a government backed scheme at the start of their tenancy or did not maintain the property adequately during the tenancy. A further 15% said that their deposit had been totally withheld without adequate explanation.
When it comes to government intervention, over half (52%) of Brits would welcome a government crackdown on rogue landlords, with a further 38% seeking tougher laws to protect flatsharers and renters and the introduction of laws to regulate the rental market (35%).
Despite the seeming prevalence of unethical landlords, the Weroom data revealed it is not just landlords that are at fault. In fact the blame is evenly distributed amongst tenants and landlords with a fifth (22%) of renters and flatsharers admitting to being the guilty party – with a quarter (25%) leaving the property with rent in arrears and unpaid bills, and 6% fighting the dispute despite acknowledging they were entirely at fault.
In terms of legalities, the research revealed that a third (31%) of Brits do not fully understand their legal rights as tenants and just over one in 10 (13%) are confident in their responsibilities. Over half (52%) failed to carry out recommended inventory checks at the start and end of their tenancy, and only a third (36%) took photographs of the property before moving in as proof of its original state. A quarter (23%) of respondents only became aware of their rights and responsibilities upon entering a tenancy dispute.
Thomas Villeneuve, CEO of Weroom, commented:
“Deposit disputes are becoming an inevitable part of the rental experience and this has got to stop. Leaving a property with a broken lightbulb or a dirty oven are increasingly common – and easily avoidable – causes of deposit disputes and reasons for landlords to withhold money from renters. Landlords and renters alike should feel confident that their interests are being protected, and an awareness of their rights and responsibilities as tenants is an easy way to minimise the opportunity for a dispute to arise.
“It’s sad to see that renters are having bad experiences with landlords, and vice versa, which is why we are committed to protecting all of our users. With the launch of our Deposit Protection Guide we can help arm renters and flatsharers with advice and understanding on how to best protect their deposit. Weroom also screens both tenants and landlords, and all can leave feedback and speak with our teams via email or live chat in event of a dispute.”
Property expert and TV presenter, Laura Hamilton, added:
“As the housing crisis in the UK persists, renting is becoming a long term housing solution for many people. Having rented properties and been a landlord myself, I know how important it is for both parties to understand their rights and responsibilities to avoid deposit disputes. Both sides can take simple steps, such as employing an independent Inventory Clerk to oversee inventories at check in and out to avoid unnecessary issues along the line.
“As a way to minimise deposit disputes, Weroom.com’s new online payment option means that your deposit won’t be withdrawn until two days after you have entered the property meaning if it doesn’t meet your expectations, you have not handed over any money to the landlord and this can be returned to you without complications.”