It’s no secret that the private rental sector needs improvements in some areas. A lack of organisation and a minority of poorly maintained, privately rented properties are damaging the sector’s reputation. These negative aspects are often used as fuel to publish damming headlines blaming landlords and property professionals for failures in the industry.
However, a 2018 report by University of York academics, Julie Rugg and David Rhodes named the ‘Evolving Private Rented Sector: Its Contribution and Potential’ is the latest source to argue that the problems in the rental sector are not the fault of landlords and letting agents alone.
We’ve been featured in Letting Agent Today on our support of this new proposal. Here’s how a new rental property ‘MOT’ certificate could improve the private rental sector for both landlords and tenants.
The property MOT is the initiative created by The Lettings Industry Council (TLC). The group is made up of a cross range of letting experts who represent landlords, letting agents, tenants, suppliers and others in the Private Rental Sector and includes government advisors. The groups aim is to improve standards across the industry.
The Report: Improving the Private Rental Sector
The report acknowledged that the private rental sector is currently ‘failing at multiple levels’. Subpar housing conditions, disorganised management and the fact that many tenants and landlords are unsure of their rights and responsibilities has resulted in this situation.
The report recommends introducing a new, annual MOT-style certificate to set a new minimum standard for rented housing conditions.
The New Property Licence
The suggested scheme would ensure a property is licensed before being let. Landlords would be required to apply for a licence so that an independent property inspector can review the property.
This service would be performed by property professionals, trained to assess whether a property is fit to let. Once affirmed, all licensed properties would be added to a national database connected to the landlords phone number, while unlicensed properties would be subject to legal action if let.
For HMO properties (houses in multiple occupation), a slightly amended certificate would be required, taking into consideration the extra safety checks needed.
If introduced, mortgage lenders would have to check the status of a property before loaning money and it would be illegal for letting agents to manage an unlicensed property.
The authors believe that, alongside other revisions to the industry, this ‘MOT’ could improve conditions for renters. They also hope that the new scheme would free up time and resources for local authorities to combat criminal activities and other pressing issues in the industry.
Benefits for Private Rental Landlords
One benefit of this proposed scheme, is that it would integrate existing health and safety certificates for rental properties. Gas and electric checks and the energy performance certificate (EPC) would be added to with a basic standards for habitation assessment.
This goes hand in hand with the recent 2018 Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Bill which requires all rental properties to be safe and free of health risks for tenants. This act makes any landlords not meeting these standards liable by giving tenants the power to take legal action.
Integrating these property licenses has the potential to make things simpler and more streamlined for landlords.
Reaction from Property Professionals
The report has been praised by property professionals for moving away from the culture of blame often placed on landlords and other property agents in the media. Instead, finding sensible solutions to current problems and improving systems for both landlords and tenants could help to transform the industry as a whole.
No Letting Go’s founder and chief executive, Nick Lyons spoke to Letting Agent Today on why he believes that creating an MOT certificate system could raise the standard of homes in the private rental industry;
“An MOT report, ensuring a property meets a minimum standard, alongside an independently and professionally compiled inventory would ensure that everything about a property’s condition and contents is suitably documented at the start of a tenancy”.
It’s not just No Letting Go championing this idea. ARLA Propertymark, the professional body for raising standards in residential lettings, agrees that this certificate could be a simple and practical solution to current issues.
Keeping on Top of Your Rental Properties
If you’re a landlord who’s worried about potential changes to your responsibilities and feel overwhelmed with licencing applications, why not delegate some of the work?
No Letting Go are one of the largest providers of inventory services in the UK. We provide independent property reports, including check in/check out services and safety checks to help give landlords peace of mind. Find out more about our services here.