CAB wants private rent refunds if homes are unsafe or unsound

Mid Suffolk Citizens Advice Bureau wants private rent refunds if homes are unsound or unsafe

Mid Suffolk Citizens Advice Bureau wants private rent refunds if homes are unsound or unsafe - Credit: Archant

A community charity has said private renters in Mid Suffolk should get their money back if the home they are renting is dangerously uninhabitable.

In the Citizen Advice Bureau’s (CAB) new ‘renting uncovered’ report, the national charity has called for rent repayment orders to be extended to cover private tenants whose homes are structurally unsound, have unsafe wiring or are riddled with damp and mould.

In the last year, more than 80,000 people went to Citizens Advice suffering with a problem with a privately rented home.

Common issues included illegal eviction and harassment, lost deposits and struggles to secure the most basic repairs.

Rent repayment orders already exist for when a landlord rents out a multiple occupancy property without the right licence.

Mid Suffolk CAB manager Carol Eagles claimed: “Renters’ rights are stuck in the Dark Ages.

“These days people rightly expect to get their money back if something they pay for is not up to scratch.

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“Private renters can end up thousands of pounds out of pocket when they are let a home which turns out to be unfit to live in.

“We’re calling for a system which provides people with a refund if a private rented home doesn’t meet the most basic standards, like safe electrics and being structurally sound. People face a huge number of different housing problems.”

She added that as the private rented sector continued to expand, the issues would affect more and more people.

She said: “There are more than nine million renters in England, and it’s time their rights are brought up to modern standards.

“Renters need to be granted the same protections as other consumers – repairs that get done and refunds when things go badly wrong.”

The importance of the CAB has been underlined in Stowmarket, when a tenant had issues with her landlord, who had refused to return £600 of her £1,000 deposit.

The CAB then tried to help the client negotiate with the landlord and eventually helped her take the case to the small claims court for £450, which the judge found in her favour and awarded her £540, which included £90 in costs.

When the landlord still did not pay, CAB helped the client apply for a debt order, which was to take the money directly from his bank account but failed due to insufficient funds in the landlord’s bank account.

After 10 months and 38 interactions the client eventually received a cheque for £540.

A spokesman for the Mid Suffolk CAB said the woman would not have been able to navigate the court system or complete the paperwork without the support and guidance of its team of volunteers.

The group has said it wants to see a situation where no renter can be evicted for complaining about bad conditions, pay for a home that is dangerous, pay excessive fees for basic services such as printing contracts, or face rogue landlords.

For more information on the Mid Suffolk CAB call 01449 676060 or email