Landlords and Agents are the new Villains! – Truth or myth…

by | Mar 12, 2015

The property industry is holding its breath as the election looms under the threat of major changes from a Labour government, who seemed to have listened to some of the ludicrous claims being put out into the press by certain charity organisations purporting to defend tenant’s rights.

All professional lettings know that we do more to protect tenant’s rights as well as landlords than any of the regulations being proposed and yet this is not the message that is getting out onto the market place right now, and it’s important that we gather our voice and make the truth be known…

Some of the claims being made about our industry today are…

  • Tenants pay over £1194 in upfront fees to letting agents (not including rent) say Labour” – who as a result are attempting to BAN agents from charging tenants, insisting landlords should bear all the costs

As a result some of the proposals going through parliament and proposed by Labour at the moment are an attempt to deal with these issues…

For example:

  • If an item of maintenance is outstanding and has been reported to the council, then a section 21 cannot be served for 6 months
  • Tenancies are to be for 3 years minimum unless requested otherwise by the tenant
  • Landlords are to cover ALL letting costs and tenants are not to pay anything
  • Rent controls to cap rents so that all increases are to be capped

The problem seems to be that they are trying to turn the private rented sector into a non profit making social landlord to house the nations homeless, the problem is that the PRS was not designed for this purpose, successive governments have just NOT built enough homes nor managed its own housing stock adequately and know private landlords must pick up the pieces.

In relation to the reporting of maintenance, I hope they draft this piece of legislation well, as we have had a few cases where tenants have reported issues to the council that they have not reported to us, would these stop a section 21? And how would proof be sought… would it leave doubt in the courtroom, meaning re-adjournment and serious delays for evictions?

The press are also forgetting that much of the private rented sector are normal working, professional, types not all claiming LHA and housing benefit, for example, can a tenant renting a property a £3,000 per week not afford a £125 application fee?

If landlords do not make a profit, they simply will NOT provide rental accommodation, this has happened before with the protected tenancies and the protection from eviction act, which reduced the private rented sector down to a virtually non-existent 7% in 1987.  A repeat of that will not help anyone and certainly mean a vast shortage in property available. In one article I read a claim from generation rent that landlords should in fact pay their capital appreciation over to the tenant for the period they live in the property!

But I don’t feel it is good for tenants either, you see we have been offering 2 year tenancies to our tenants for some time, and in my experience it’s the tenants that don’t want them, the reason they are renting is to have flexibility.

In relation to tenant fees, they have banned agents from charging fees in Scotland and as a result the rents have all increased, meaning the tenants in fact pay substantially more over the whole tenancy (especially if they are contracted to 3 years) and much of what letting agents do, is to protect the tenant anyway.

All good agents will insist on gas certificates being provided, correctly drawn up agreements, deposit registration, inventories, and not to mention the fact that many of us insist on electric certs and smoke alarms too as part of our agency terms, all of which keep the tenant safe as well as making sure the landlord does all that he has to in relation to repairs etc. by keeping him informed of his obligations.  Yet all this seems to go unnoticed and we continued to be accused of being rip off agents by charging a fee for the service we provide.

The industry has spoke out and prepared a report to quell the myths with 10 key recommendations to get the truth out there, the question is, will anyone listen? degrees

So for me the next 6 months are probably going to be the most interesting yet of my 25 year career and I am doing all I can to get OUR message out there of the value that great letting agents offer to landlords and tenants alike and if we all did the same, then maybe they would listen… this is our industry, our livelihood, let’s not let a few bad stories and a few rogues ruin it for us all.