Brace yourselves, Upad has just completed its annual survey in which it asked hundreds of tenants what they thought about renting today and the results came back loud and clear: finding a place to live is increasingly expensive, stressful and time-consuming but tenants felt there was plenty landlords could do to make it easier.
This includes saving tenants money by ditching high street online letting agents, not being greedy with the rent, and responding quickly to enquiries.
Almost half (47%) of the 700 tenants questioned said letting agents’ admin fees were their number one bugbear, up from 27% in last year’s survey. Hardly surprising when you consider that in the last 18 months the average fee paid by each tenant has risen from £210 to an eye-watering £250.
When asked for the one piece of advice they would give to their landlords, many said they should let directly to tenants, via online agents like Upad, to spare them these hefty fees.
Over 90% of tenants said they preferred to deal directly with their landlord and 75% said they’d like to meet them when they first view a property.
However, some advice they gave to landlords self-letting was to respond to viewing requests quickly, be flexible with appointments, let people know if a property was already let and not to rush the viewing process.
Tenants felt some landlords were dishonest in their advertising, often exaggerating the size of rooms or failing to point out a property’s pitfalls, leading to disappointment later on.
Some complained of the dismissive way they were treated by landlords during their search. They accused landlords of failing to respond to their enquiries, not bothering to let them know when a property had been let or unfairly judging them based on their status. The latter was especially a problem for students and those claiming benefits, with both groups claiming landlords were prejudiced against them.
Not surprisingly, high rents are a big issue in London where 40% of tenants said the cost of renting was their number one concern, compared to 22% in the rest of the country.
It goes without saying that rents are rising because property is becoming increasingly expensive, but many tenants pleaded with landlords to be flexible and lower their rents where they could. The oft repeated message was “don’t be greedy, be human”.
In fact, it seems from tenants’ comments that they feel landlords don’t always treat them as fellow human beings or with respect and, sadly, we’re perhaps not always as caring as we could be.
Treat us with kindness, said tenants, listen to what we want, allow us to make your property our home.
Little touches they suggested would make a big difference included allowing them to keep small pets (some just wanted a goldfish!), letting them put up pictures and for the landlord to show a real interest in them rather than making them feel like a cash cow.
A third of tenants wanted their landlords to check in with them every month to make sure everything was okay.
A lack of cleanliness seems to be a bit of an issue, with several tenants saying landlords ought to make sure their properties are professionally cleaned between tenancies. A few suggested properties should be repainted too.
Several complained that landlords provided poor quality appliances and furniture and, shockingly, it seems many don’t bother to repair broken items despite being asked to do so.
One surprising bit of information that came out of the Upad survey, given the recent calls from tenant campaign groups for landlords to be forced to offer three-year tenancies, was that tenants don’t necessarily want long-term contracts.
Tenants might be renting for longer, but they don’t want to commit to the same place for more than a few months. In fact, 32% said they’d prefer just a six month contract and only 12% said they wanted a contract of three years or more. The most popular length of tenancy agreement was 12 months, which is what most landlords offer anyway.
Overall, the message from tenants to their landlords was “be honest, be considerate, flexible and fair”. Now, that’s not a lot to ask is it?