Calls are being made to eradicate the problem of tenants who trash property, run up large debts or refuse to pay their rent. The suggestion is that the scope of the Housing and Planning Bill, which is going through Parliament at the moment, should be widened in order to address the issue of difficulties with tenants.
The Bill includes measures to deal with criminal letting agents and landlords, with proposals to ban and fine them, introduce repayment orders and set up a database of blacklisted landlords and agents. This would be compiled by local authorities.
However the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks feels that the Bill is very ‘one-sided’.
Landlords and agents have countless tales of tenants who have destroyed property, stolen items, sub-let the premises or even refused to make rent payments for extended periods of time. That is why the AIIC chair Patricia Barber suggests that it would be only fair if tenants could be named and shamed on a blacklist too.
Barber feels that such a threat or the imposition of a fine might discourage the rogue minority of tenants from causing problems. She also believes that it could improve the working relationship between landlords, agents and their tenants.
The AIIC of course welcomes measures to stamp out rogue landlords and agents by preventing them from letting property. However, this is a small minority and in the interests of balance, it believes that the Bill should be extended to deal with tenants who cause problems for their landlords.
The Housing Bill is having a tough time in Parliament, particularly in the House of Lords, where it is repeatedly being defeated. Some of the controversial issues include new homes in England having to meet a ‘carbon compliance standard’ from April 2018 and requiring rural developers to contribute towards affordable housing, even if their development is very small.
So there is the possibility of further amendments before the Bill is finally passed and becomes law.
It seems as though landlords and letting agents are under increasing scrutiny, with new legislation coming through in the past couple of years to create ever more work for landlords with the risk of substantial fines or a criminal record if they do not comply.
These pressures could force some landlords or buy-to-let investors to leave the market at a time when demand for rented properties is outstripping supply in many areas.
Landlords, agents and property management companies should look at joining trade organisations or associations which can lobby on their behalf. They can offer support and practical guidance to make sure that their members are offering a high-quality service to tenants.
Landlords and rental companies are also advised to review the best way in which to keep their files up-to-date and to make sure that they are complying with all the new laws.
Specialist software such as InventoryBase is available which can be downloaded on to a phone or tablet and can thus can be used offline. This keeps records of all contracts, rent paid and other meetings with tenants. This means that everything is in one place, and can be shared with other members of the team.