“Our bathroom had been leaking downstairs for 5 years prior to us moving in and our landlord refused to repair it properly, claiming plumbers were trying to cheat them out of money. Despite the neighbour’s complaints to the Council, several inspections – including one occasion where the Council declared the property below the tolerable standard – and warnings from plumbers that the floor boards were corroded and might collapse any time, our landlord insisted on doing only minor cosmetic repairs.
“They also took 2 months to replace a shattered window glass in my room (replacing it with plywood in the meantime), did not provide us with a working cooker for a month, and ended up deducing £150 from our deposit for mysterious “cleaning services.”
“When I tried complaining, they shouted at me over the phone, said they would charge us more, and hung up on me.”
“We felt utterly let down by our last experience, of letting a flat with what we thought was a reputable agency. Their behaviour showed a systematic disregard for the law, our rights and our safety.
“We were lied to repeatedly, our deposit wasn’t lodged with a scheme in accordance with the law, basic repairs were dragged out or never attended to and they refused to allow us contact details for the property’s owner, despite us quoting the appropriate sections of housing law to them.
“What was most discouraging was discovering that letting agencies aren’t covered by any regulator and since most housing law applies to the landlord, rather than the agencies, agencies are often free to behave as they wish.
“In many cases, the only action a tenant can take is to raise a court action. But many leases are short assured tenancies, enabling eviction with two month’s notice, for no fault, so commencing legal action will result in the termination of their lease. This particular injustice renders much of the current law designed to protect tenants, as utterly toothless. This is why we wholeheartedly back the reforms that Patrick Harvie is proposing.”
“I am a student at Glasgow University and used a private landlord during 2012-2013 during which time my flatmates and I had an awful experience of HMO non-compliance, a broken washer/dryer (that was never fixed), faulty electrics and the landlord was an absolute bully. The HMO officer who was supposed to help resolve issues took the easiest route out and let the landlord off with not making repairs and was generally not willing to enforce the Repairing Standard or fire safety regulations.
“The landlord threatened several times to ‘kick us out’ but each time we challenged this on account of us having in no way violated the terms of our contract. As such, his threats were empty but intimidating nonetheless. On one occasion he showed up with family members when I was in the flat alone and collectively they engaged in an attempt to intimidate me into not making any more complaints about the condition of the property. Their behaviour was so threatening that I called the police and they made a report of the incident.
“At the end of our tenancy, we were not awarded our deposit back and so I took legal action against the landlord for not having registered it in a deposit scheme. My action resulted in a settlement of £5,000.
“I am very glad to hear about the Rents Right campaign as I feel that renting in Glasgow is an absolute nightmare and as a student, I know so many fellow students who have been victims of appalling housing conditions that they did not challenge because they did not know their legal rights.”
“We currently rent a bungalow in Westhill. Although the street is lovely, we certainly have to pay for that – it was £700 a month when we moved here in February 2013, it’s now gone up to £750 a month from August. What scares me is that that is cheap for the area, there is nothing under £950 a month in westhill now, with a 2 bed flat going for £1,250 the other month!
“Rent prices are increasing far too high, our income can’t cope, we both work but only have a combined income of £26k, and we still paying off a mortgage from our previous flat.
The house itself has an awful mould problem. The letting agents know but they insist it’s due to condensation and we are to just keep doing what we are doing.
“My day involves cleaning the water off all the windows, moving my son’s bed from against the wall to air it and Hoover it as it’s been getting awful mould on the wall and carpet. Keeping windows open and the heating on and spraying tea tree oil on the carpets. While this doesn’t seem much it takes a lot of time, I can’t risk leaving it as it just takes a couple of days for the mould to start growing. I’m worried for my children’s health but we can’t move because of rent prices and I’m scared we’ll get charged for the stains on the carpet from the mould.
“We get 3 monthly inspections. I feel like this house I live in isn’t my home, and I know it’s not as we rent, but surely we shouldn’t be made to feel like this?
“I’ve got our name down for affordable housing but we’re pretty low on the list, our kids are in playgroup and nursery here, I don’t want to move towns for their education.
“Private renting really is getting out of hand, the prices are rising way to high compared to income.”
“Having just spent 2 months searching hard for a flat to rent, I have a lot to share about what is wrong with the private rented housing market.
“What has annoyed me more than anything is the total inconsistency between different letting agents about the process for getting a flat. I dealt with private landlords too, who were equally frustrating, but it’s the letting agents who are supposed to be offering a professional service.
“Over the last 2 months I probably dealt with about 20 different agencies. Most ask you if you are a ‘professional’ in full-time work before offering a viewing, but then most will only do viewings and appointments during daytime working hours! This means you either have to take time off work for lots of viewings, most of which will be unsuccessful, or try and arrange them in lunch breaks where you dash around town. With a partner or flatmates this becomes even trickier. With inflexible work or an unsympathetic boss you’re not going to get very far.
“Some of the agencies who think they’re more respectable do individual viewings, which are great but rare. Others do very open viewings, where you can be crammed into a flat with a dozen other people. Others put a limit of the number of spaces for viewings, so you’ve got no chance if you’ve not one of the first 3 people to phone up.
“Then there is complete inconsistency about trying to take the flat if you want it. Some will take your basic details and say the landlord will make a choice, but this seems entirely arbitrary as the only notable detail they have is your occupation. Some pretend that it’s not ‘first come first served’ but really it is, and some are completely open about it and actually want to see you sprint to the other side of town to hand in a crumpled form.
“Many want proof of income, a credit reference, proof of address, proof of ID and guarantors (for all tenants) provided at this manic stage too. None of this makes for good decision-making or a proper assessment of the property you’re going to spend a great deal of your income on.
“So in addition to tackling rent increases and greater lease security, but can we also make the basic process just a bit clearer and less cut-throat? I’d like to see the new Code of Practice for Letting Agents set out a much clearer process that all agencies sign up to, and I think they should offer a range of viewing times to suit those in work. These may seem petty, but they will make a big difference to a lot of desperate people.”
“I moved to a flat in the East End of Glasgow and encountered many problems with my letting agent. The flat was in poor condition and I was told that it didn’t matter, as I wanted to move in quickly.
“I was left without lighting and no toilet seat along with many other electrical issues. There was a hole under the bath leading to the flat below that dripped water and they refused to repair this for over a year, until environmental health was called in by my neighbor. The sofa was ripped beyond repair and they refused to replace it, stating it was ”fire retardant” although the fire service informed me it wasn’t. I was made to pay an admin fee whenever resigning my lease, which I later discovered is illegal to do.
“I tried contacting my agent for over two months regarding the broken door to the building and discovered that they had packed up and left, with two months rent, my deposit and over £200 of illegally claimed admin fees. I recently discovered they are now trading under a new name in Glasgow and still have not managed to reclaim the money.”
“After my first year [of University] I decided to move out of student accommodation and found a place in the west end with a letting agency. Everything was fine in the beginning, but in the last week before moving, they asked for 6 months rent in advance, giving the silly reason that they needed a guarantor, since I was an international student, even though I had a funding letter. This is illegal. They told that other international students paid up and I should do so too. I had to back up, which left me pretty much homeless.
“Then I stayed with a private landlord. He refused to put my deposit in the tenancy deposit scheme, saying this is the way it works in Scotland. I had to move out of there as well and I didn’t even get a 30 day notice for evacuation.”
“I moved to Scotland in order to start a PhD at one of the Universities in Glasgow. I paid fees for preparing the paperwork connected to the tenancy agreement. When I moved in I discovered that some things were broken and even though I asked for them to be repaired only a few were. When I asked where they protected my deposit they told me that they didn’t protect it, claiming that it wasn’t a deposit in the first place. I had to lodge a small claims action in order to get my fees and my full deposit back. It was a time consuming and frustrating process and there was little help available.
“In the end they got away with not protecting my deposit, even though they broke the law. I couldn’t afford to take up a summary application to make them pay a penalty for that.”
Patrick Harvie’s story
“While I am a homeowner now, I spent about 10 years as a private rented sector tenant. On one occasion, just after I had moved back to Scotland from university, a particularly unpleasant landlord in Glasgow decided that he was not going to give me any paperwork, contract or even a letter to confirm that I had a tenancy. This left me unable to apply for housing benefit when I lost my job. That situation ultimately resulted in my having to call the police when he sent round a squad of boys to start removing doors and furniture and whatever they could to harass me and other tenants out of the flat.
“I was lucky; I had somewhere to go because I was able to fall back on the support of family. Without that support I could easily have found myself in a much more desperate situation.
“I’m keen to hear stories from others that have had bad experiences in the private rented sector. The better we understand where some tenants are being let down the better we can respond to make sure the right changes are made.”
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