The failure of landlords to renovate their properties has created a “snowball effect” that has resulted in homes not meeting acceptable living standards, according to a London estate agent.
Jon Werth, managing director of LiFE Residential, said: “The main culprits are private landlords across the nation, and their complacency towards the housing market. They fundamentally manipulate the system and enjoy the lucrative income, yet conveniently forget to properly maintain each of the properties they own.
“In addition, they lack the desire to critically plan upgrades and renovations required – the work then gets put off for months or even years, creating a snowball effect resulting in where we are today.”
Recent research from Shelter revealed that that a worrying four in 10 homes failed an acceptable living standard.
Shelter said most homes fall below the standard due to the impact of high housing costs.
One in four people in Britain live in homes which fail on affordability, while almost one in five are in homes which do not to meet the standard because of poor conditions, with problems including persistent pests, damp or safety hazards.
Werth said that while property agents set higher and more professional standards with the maintenance of their properties, a “kneejerk reaction” to Brexit could see standards drop even further.
“Since the UK’s decision to Brexit, most property investors will be keen to save money by any means possible. People will continue to feel hesitant when considering these bigger purchases and, with living costs taking the largest chunk out of many Britain’s monthly income as the research suggests, a negative knock on effect will be clear to see.
“Private landlords will become lazy and even less inclined to spend even on the essential maintenance of their properties. They’ll exploit the knowledge that their tenants want to spend as little as possible for rent and mortgages and continue to cut corners with a ‘you get what you pay for’ mentality.”
The new Living Home Standard has been designed by Shelter to be the housing equivalent of the living wage. It has been developed following a consultation with the public and is measured through affordability, decent conditions, stability, space and neighbourhood.
“People in the UK need to feel positive about investing in housing again, not conscious of the fact that with the slightest wrong decision they could be in massive amounts of financial trouble. Having more homes that adhere to the acceptable standards criteria will encourage people’s trust in that they are making a smart investment and slowly, but surely, we’ll see research figures like these improve,” said Werth.
Richard Lambert, chief executive officer at the National Landlords Association, said: “Shelter’s Living Homes Standard defines what people aspire to in a home, rather than a practical housing standard based on hard evidence. In reality, many people are living happily in homes which do not meet their criteria.
“Standards are continuing to improve in the PRS. According to the most recent English Housing Survey, the proportion of ‘non-decent’ properties in the private sector is actually declining, and fell by 18% between 2006 and 2014.
“Nevertheless, more can be done to improve private renting in the UK, but the best way to do this is through incentivising the good work of landlords, rather than applying yet more regulations and discouraging investment in buy-to-let.”
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