The bad landlord problem
There’s a new pejorative term being attached to landlords – amateur is now added to rogue.
Meanwhile Phil Wilson MP recently launched a ten minute Bill to regulate landlords. Using Shelter’s statistics to justify it was like using figures from Alcoholics Anonymous to ban alcohol.
Tenants with problems will of course go to organisations like Shelter.
Most tenants are happy with their landlord
Most tenants in the private sector are happy with their rental – more than in social housing, according to the English Housing Condition report. So the problem lies with a minority.
And the evidence from licensing HMOs has shown that however much regulation is applied it will be the compliant majority who pay the cost, while those who seek to avoid regulation will continue to drag down the reputation of the majority.
The educated tenant
The answer lies with empowering and educating tenants to know what they are renting. They take more trouble buying a car than they do checking the quality of a property or landlords’ credentials.
Finding a home to rent is about more than location, beds, pay the rent and move in.
Things that a tenant should check are …
If tenants knew about landlord accreditation schemes, deposits, ASTs, gas and electrical certificates, furniture safety, ventilation and condensation, not to mention HHSRS and all the rest of the regulations, good landlords would have good tenants queuing up.
Whenever did a tenant ask for more than a gas safety certificate – and then only the parent of a student? Has any tenant ever appreciated the value of an EPC or asked to see the recent bills if it’s a lower band house when heating could be more expensive?
Do they twiddle the taps or the knobs on appliances to see they work – or know a Gas-Safe certificate is needed for each appliance? Would they recognise an RCD if it hit them in the face? Better not as you would be liable for compensation of course. And are there any signs of damp patches or leaks from gutters or rainwater pipes?
Personal security amounts to more than locks on doors and windows – and smoke/heat alarms, blankets and extinguishers are vital as are furniture fire labels. But are they checked?
Why should a landlord bother if tenants don’t?
Landlords reading this and seeing it as a statement of the obvious should ask themselves why they have invested their time and money on presenting a safe and decent home, when tenants don’t appreciate it?
The opposite logic says that in today’s market, bad landlords can get away with poor property or even with criminal negligence and tenants are either ignorant or gullible.
But I’ll be the first to accept there are tenants who need a hazard sign on them too: responsibility applies to both landlord and tenant.
This litany sounds like an inventory clerk’s job – but their role is to represent the landlord and although a tenant is supposed to be present, too often impatience and dislike of paperwork reduces the tenant to indifference and leaves them to regret their loss later.
Some schools provide social education and financial management but none as far as I can find, offer anything on choosing and renting property.
It is I suggest, not landlords who are amateur, it is the vast majority of tenants.
Chairman, Residential Landlord Association