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Private Sector Renting – not so decent after all!

Amazingly, four out of ten privately rented flats and houses in England are in a 'non-decent' condition, says the government in a damning verdict on landlords. More people than ever are renting as they cannot afford to buy, but housing standards have worsened.

According to the English Housing Survey, 3.4 million households were in privately rented homes in 201, an increase from 2.4 million in 2005: this means that one in six now live in privately rented accommodation.

Some 1.4 million homes – just over 40% of the private rented sector – are described as being 'non-decent'. This in fact means that they have failed on three or more premium standards, which include: a kitchen that is no more than 20 years old with 'reasonable space and layout', a bathroom more than 30 years old, and the property should have good insulation against sound. In the case of flats, the communal area must be of an adequate size, must have energy-efficient features and must be of a size suitable for the number of tenants it houses.

Some 15% of private rented properties have serious damp problems. Owner-occupied properties and social housing fare better than those owned by private landlords. Given that the majority of all renters are under 35, this is very much a younger persons' market.

The advice is to look carefully at a property before you rent it. Don't be afraid to ask questions as to how old the property is and when it last had its electrical and gas appliances tested. Landlords are bound by a great deal of legislation and you have the right to ask to see evidence of safety checks etc. Don't forget the deposit scheme either – which means that any deposit you pay must be kept in a separate and verified account until such time as it is to be returned to you.

Make sure your landlord has proper insurance in place for the building – and then, in turn, take out adequate contents insurance to cover all your personal items. Speak with a professional insurance company – Westhill Insurance Services can find exactly the right cover to suit your needs and will make sure that all your possessions are fully covered and be as safe as houses (or flats!). Whether you are planning to stay in your rented flat or house for a few months or a longer time, don't be tempted not to insure or assume your landlord will have made arrangements. It is highly unlikely he has: he is responsible for the building and its fixtures and fittings – you need to get cover for your own goods. Make life easy and call Westhill Insurance; it may not be your building, but it's full of your precious belongings!

Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.

Posted on 3rd April, 2011