Over the past few years a number of tenant groups have claimed that the private rental sector needs to be better regulated in order to tackle the issue of rogue landlords. However, it’s not just rogue landlords that tenant groups want more help managing, but also landlords who do not take their responsibilities seriously but are not bad enough to be considered ‘rogue’. In order to decipher whether landlords are looking after their tenants properly they need to be properly reviewed, but is this possible?
There is no general consensus when it comes to the relationships between landlords and tenants as each landlord runs their business differently. Even tenants can’t agree on how much contact they want with their landlords as some would prefer only to hear from them when they need them while others want more regular updates. However, if there is an issue with a property then nearly all tenants will expect their landlords to be in contact with them as often as possible and have the issue fixed straight away.
This is where most tenant/landlord relationships break down as some tenants have expectations of their landlords that they simply cannot meet. Unfortunately, if a property is damaged it’s not always easy to have it fixed the same day as not only do landlords have to call their landlord insurance providers but also find qualified tradesmen who are able to fix the issue. However, if you explain all these processes with your tenants you should be able to manage their expectations and protect your relationships.
Scottish Housing Regulator
Even though private landlords are not officially regulated in the UK, the Scottish Housing Regulator recently published figures showing that social housing tenants in Scotland feel that they are not kept informed with their landlords’ work. In fact, 23% said that they felt they were not very well informed on the progress of repairs, gas servicing and rent collection, while seven per cent said that they were not informed at all.
Even though social housing associations have more responsibilities when it comes to their tenants private landlords should also take note of this recent report. Not keeping tenants informed of important issues such as repairs and rent collection can not only make their quality of life worse but could also affect your business, especially if your tenants fall into rent arrears. A good rule of thumb is to respond to serious complaints within twenty-four hours and all other messages or requests within forty-eight hours.
Certain local authorities have already brought in voluntary landlord registration schemes in order to keep a close eye on the standard of their property portfolios. In order to sign up to these schemes landlords must prove that they take their responsibilities seriously and therefore have good working relationships with their tenants. This is just one way in which landlords are becoming more regulated, and for many this is the best way.
At the moment landlord registration is only applicable in certain areas, however some groups and local MPs are campaigning for it to be made compulsory nationwide. Naturally, some private landlords are against mandatory registration as they claim that they are able to manage their businesses and that they shouldn’t have to pay to show that they are reputable.
During the run up to the General Election next year it is likely that most political parties will broach the issue of mandatory landlord registration as well as the general state of the private rental sector. However, they will have to make sure that they balance their policies in order to avoid alienating either landlords or tenants whose votes they will be relying on.
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