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Tenants want help to check on landlords

A website that would allow a tenant to rate their landlord would be widely welcomed, according to research carried out by watchdog group, Consumer Focus. The survey found that nine out of every ten who took part thought a customer feedback system similar to the one found on eBay would be useful to everyone who is looking to rent a home.

The report also shows that currently, the private rented sector is getting far too many complaints from tenants. The Coalition Government backed watchdog says that the reason for so many complaints is down to the tenants’ lack of knowledge about a landlord, prior to agreeing to sign a tenancy agreement.

The Research shows that only 15% of tenants were able to find all the information they wanted about both a landlord and letting agent. A good landlord will always ask tenants for references, deposits or guarantors plus other personal information; he will also conduct various credit checks to make sure the tenant is suitable. He will also look to get good, cheap landlord insurance as a fall back for when things do go wrong. Many tenants would welcome the chance to get more information on their landlord in just the same way.

To help get a better balance, Consumer Focus has written to some of the United Kingdoms biggest letting agents and deposit schemes asking them to explore the possibility of having an online feedback system which could benefit tenants, just as similar systems have worked well worked on eBay and Amazon. Consumer Focus feels that renting a home is a big financial commitment with some paying an average of £816 a month for a one bedroom property. However, the private rented sector is the second most complained about market.

The watchdog’s policy expert, Claire McAnulty, says “People often sign up with little more than a gut feeling after a cursory tour of the property – if they are lucky, they might have a word of mouth recommendation. Getting behind a feedback website could also help the industry establish a better reputation and build up much-needed trust with renters.”

By Simon Dack

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