This press release speaks for itself but it shows that what I am saying about the private rented sector in Reading isn't just a whim, this is an issue which is increasingly affecting our residents and I expect this to increase as government housing policy and the lack of economic growth continues to bite. You can see the Citizen's Advice Bueau's report here.
Reading Borough Council and the local Citizen's Advice Bureau have joined forces to highlight and tackle some of the problems caused by rogue landlords and letting agents in the town.
The CAB, which is an independent charitable organisation, has published a report detailing some of the problems faced by local tenants who rent their homes from private owners. The most frequent causes of complaints are:
" Repairs, including gas safety.
" Breaches of tenancy agreements.
" Unfair and unclear charges.
" Loss of deposits.
The report is available on-line at www.readingcab.org.uk.
Commenting on the report, Reading CAB chief executive, David Harper said: 'We are delighted that Reading Borough Council is looking to improve the lot of tenants in the private rented sector in the area as this has been a concern of ours for some time.
'In 2011 we advised 493 clients who reported 682 issues in the private rented sector, which included gas safety problems, unfair retention of holding and tenancy deposits, unfair charges and breach of tenancy agreements by lettings agents and landlords. We are pleased to be working with the Council on this important issue, whilst ensuring at all times that we protect the confidentiality of our clients.'
Lead Councillor for Housing and Neighbourhoods, Rachel Eden said: 'The Council is committed to ensuring that people who live in the private rented sector have access to decent, affordable homes and are not exploited.
'Reading has some very good landlords and letting agents, who take their responsibilities seriously and provide good quality, reasonably-priced accommodation.
'However, as the CAB report reveals, we also have our share of poor landlords and letting agents, employing highly-questionable practices, who are only interested in lining their own pockets and who show scant regard for their tenants' rights.
'That is why amongst other measures to tackle conditions in the private rented sector, I will be tabling a proposal at Cabinet next week (12 March), to investigate the implementation of new licensing schemes for rental properties in Reading not currently licensed.'
A discretionary licensing scheme could benefit local residents and the community by:
" Reducing environmental crime, anti-social behaviour and building community resilience;
" Driving up physical and management standards in the Private Rented Sector; and
" Increasing access to decent and safe homes.
This would be achieved by increasing the number of properties inspected, preventing over-occupation; helping to determine whether a landlord is a 'fit and proper person' to manage the accommodation; and n certain circumstances allowing the Council to take control of the property.