i Deputy Editor's Letter: Getting your foot on the property ladder is just the beginning...

 

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The Independent Online

 

When I left university I faced a mountain of debt from student loans, overdrafts and a huge credit card bill that my parents, quite rightly, refused to pay. Nevertheless, I was eager to move out of home and forge ahead with my own life. With many of my peers moving into banking or law, my options were limited, but I eventually found a friend who was willing to live in a small flat, with a price to match.

Luckily for me, this was in the late 1990s, when house prices (and rental costs) were rising, but had not yet spiralled out of control. And while I felt I was in debt up to my eyeballs, it was nothing in comparison to what students face today after finishing their courses.

Now, with rental prices hitting new highs all over the country, you would hope properties would be looked after. Many are, but there is still a significant number of landlords who feel no obligation to keep houses and flats in a reasonable state. Complaints include mouldy walls, dodgy electrical goods, neglected bathrooms, insect infestations … the list of unacceptable living conditions could go on.

But as rents have soared, fines for exploiting tenants have remained so low that they are now worthless, with many landlords accepting them as a regular expense. Penalties should clearly be raised, but they will simply nudge rental costs higher – further punishing those already being exploited.

So while plans to give the Bank of England more power to curb mortgage lending – in an effort to cool the market – should be welcomed, similar measures should surely be introduced to protect rents charged by those fortunate enough to loan out their second (or third…) homes.

i@independent.co.uk

Twitter.com: @jonesrhodri

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