A report prepared by Citizens Advice New Forest reveals that people renting privately in the New Forest have a hard time of it.
Following national campaigning work by Citizens Advice in 2015 (Settled & Safe: A renter’s rights), Citizens Advice New Forest decided to undertake its own research on the local private rented sector. We have just issued our report: “A review of private sector rented accommodation in the New Forest.”
The review found significant barriers for householders seeking to rent in the New Forest, particularly low income households.
- A shortage of rental properties generally, with virtually no properties available within the New Forest at rents which would be covered by the Local Housing Allowance (housing benefit);
- Local Housing Allowance for New Forest reflecting actual rental prices in Southampton, Bournemouth or Salisbury Broad Rental Market Areas, where the data is likely to be skewed to reflect the urban market position.
- Significant up-front costs for tenants taking on a new rental. As well as creating problems for people seeking to rent for the first time, these costs can also inhibit mobility within the sector.
- Lack of standardisation across letting agents as to disclosure of the fees and costs applying to tenants, making it difficult for prospective tenants to make comparisons across agents
- Increasing requirement for tenants to provide a guarantor – something that may be virtually impossible for many low-income households to do
- Reluctance of local landlords to accept low-income tenants who will be reliant on Local Housing Allowance to pay some of their rent (“No DSS”). This is likely to become worse with the introduction of Universal Credit.
- Lack of awareness by private sector tenants on the assistance they can seek from the local Council if they have problems with the state of their rented property
Other issues potentially affecting all tenants:
- Difficulties in getting landlords to accept responsibility for repairs and to get them fixed in a timely manner
- Difficulties in agreeing the amount of security deposit to be returned at the end of a tenancy
- Lack of understanding of tenants’ rights and responsibilities
Andy Clapper, CEO of Citizens Advice New Forest, added: “Housing issues are one of the top problem areas for our clients. So, disappointing though they are, I am not surprised by these findings and I think it is good that we have highlighted the problems being experienced in our community by low income households. Whilst some of the factors are outside local control, I hope, by sharing these findings and working with others, particularly the District Council, we can make a positive difference for private renters in the New Forest.”
Click the link to view/ download a copy of the report