Who's Right About Buy to Let Repair Gripes?

Official private home rental data from the government seems to paint a different picture of the market from a report released by consumer charity Citizens Advice. 

Citizens Advice claims that 41% of tenants have waited longer than expected for landlords to repair their homes over the past four years. 

However, the English Housing Survey published by the Department of Communities and Local Government based on independent data from the Office of National Statistics says 18% of private renters (810,000 households) were not pleased about the way repairs and maintenance were carried out on their homes, compared to 22% of social tenants. 

The ONS research adds that 82% of renters were satisfied with their homes. 

Citizens Advice says 16,000 calls were received from private renters complaining about the condition of their homes last year. No data was given for social tenants as a comparison. 

That number of calls represents 0.35% of all private renting households, but the data does not indicate how many tenants made multiple calls. Citizens Advice projects these findings to show that 41% of private renters or 1.85 million households had problems with repairs over the past four years – which is not comparable to their other reported data or the ONS survey.

Citizens Advice is calling on the government to protect tenants against retaliatory evictions when they ask for repairs based on their study. 

But the ONS figures highlight that 73% of tenants move because they want to. Just over one in 10 (11%) moved because the landlord ended the tenancy, and in almost two-thirds of these cases (63%), the landlord was moving into the home or selling. 

The ONS also noted that 3% of tenants left because of a poor relationship with their landlord, and 2% (90,000) moved due to a rent increase. 

The ONS also noted that 28% of private rented homes failed to meet the Decent Homes Standard in 2015. 

The private rental sector totals 4.5 million households. Rent arrears were recorded in 376,000 homes during 2015-16 – 9% of all private renters. 

The Citizens Advice analysis relied on 762 households, while the ONS report was based on 13,468 homes. 

Read The English Housing Survey 2015-16

View Related Handbook Page

Landlords’ Responsibilities for Repair and Maintenance

In addition to any repair responsibilities explicitly set out in the tenancy agreement, common law and statute will imply terms to the agreement between landlord and tenant.