In recent weeks we have seen media reports of many controversial policies by Labour, such as the proposed banning of tenancy fees, introducing rental caps and statutory long-term tenancy agreements.
New initiative warns MPs of the real impact of Labour’s flawed proposals
As Labour continues to develop controversial policies designed to protect tenants from rogue landlords, Belvoir is issuing MPs and tenants with a stark warning of the negative impact of these policies.
“In recent weeks we have seen media reports of many controversial policies by Labour, such as the proposed banning of tenancy fees, introducing rental caps and statutory long-term tenancy agreements,” says Dorian Gonsalves, Belvoir’s Director of Commercial and Franchising.
“We are concerned that many MPs may not be fully aware of the likely impact of these policies. As the general election draws nearer, Belvoir’s franchise owners across the network are committed to writing personal letters to their MPs, informing them of the potential consequences should Labour get into power and implement these flawed policies.
“Research on the ban on tenant fees in Scotland has already resulted in tenants paying up to £300 more in rents each year. A statement released by The National Landlord Association (NLA) also rubbished Ed Miliband’s proposals, labeling them as poorly thought through and completely unworkable.
“In order for MPs to make an informed decision about Labour’s proposals we feel they should be fully informed of the work that letting agents do on behalf of tenants as well as landlords. Belvoir agents are inviting MPs to meet with them so that they can fully explain the enormous protection and benefits that, for a minimal fee, tenants currently enjoy. Several Belvoir franchise owners have already received very positive responses from their MP.
“At present Belvoir manages around 30,000 properties across the UK and in the 19 years we have been trading we have dealt with hundreds of thousands of tenants. As well as contacting their local MPs, Belvoir franchise owners also intend to write to tenants, informing them of Labour’s plans and pointing out the negative impact of these flawed policies.
“The truth is that every day reputable letting agents such as Belvoir are saving tenants money. For example, every day our agents are contacted by landlords who want to charge tenants for everything from loose tiles on the roof to broken drainpipes. Some landlords take the view that if a property was fine when a tenant moved in then the tenant should pay for every little thing that goes wrong during the tenancy when it is not their responsibility at all.
“With regards to the proposed introduction of capped rental increases across the country, the majority of landlords have not increased rents at all since 2008. This is supported by the findings of Belvoir’s rental index for Q1. It is only in London and the South East where massive increases have been seen, and in these areas a cap of 3% will make no real difference, but could have a negative impact on landlords in other parts of the country, particularly when interest rates rise. Many landlords may feel forced to sell off their portfolio, thereby reducing the stock of rental properties even further. For this reason Belvoir franchise owners are also writing to landlords to raise awareness of Labour’s proposals.
Zoe Bywater, owner of Belvoir Bedford recently wrote to Tory MP Richard Fuller and says: “In the reply I received from Richard Fuller he agreed that a ban on tenant fees would just mean higher rents by the back door and would ultimately harm tenants. He also agreed that the majority of letting agents provide a good service to both tenants and landlords and the Government is determined to tackle the minority of rogue agents who offer a poor service.”
Twenty ways that a reputable lettings agent works on behalf of tenants…
- Reputable agents will check that properties are of a good standard for tenants and advise landlords of any work that needs to be undertaken prior to renting.
- A good agent will refuse to market a rental property that is not up to standard for tenants.
- Agents help to keep tenants safe by checking that any furnishings or white goods in a rental property meet current health and safety standards.
- Further safety issues include ensuring that relevant gas and electrical safety checks are carried out and certificates are issued.
- Property details issued by a reputable agent should be factually correct and not misleading for tenants.
- When an agent compiles a comprehensive inventory with detailed photographs it helps to protect the tenant and landlord from end of tenancy disputes.
- A lettings agent will safely accompany tenants on viewings.
- A good agent will do their best to match tenants to their ideal property, encouraging them to view it as long-term accommodation and care for it accordingly.
- A lettings agent will draw up a legally binding tenancy agreement to protect landlord and tenant.
- A reputable agent will safeguard a tenant’s deposit by ensuring these are protected in a government-backed tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme. An assessment of the property will be undertaken at the end of the tenancy and a fair decision will be made regarding the return of the deposit. Belvoir is a founding member of SAFE Agent (www.safeagent.co.uk)
- Property maintenance is a big issue with tenants, and an agent can ensure any problems are dealt with quickly and efficiently.
- Calls, emails and queries from tenants can come at any time of the night and day and a lettings agent or a member of staff will deal will them. If a landlord is away on holiday, who will look after the tenant?
- An agent will maintain spare sets of keys for rental properties and deal with any emergencies should a tenant be unable to access the property.
- Agents undertake regular property checks and report any tenant concerns back to the landlord. Some landlords fail to understand what they are responsible for and will try to charge tenants – an agent will ensure that a tenant is not wrongly charged.
- An agent will understand the concept of fair wear and tear and advise tenants and landlords of any issues that need to be dealt with during or at the end of a tenancy.
- A reputable agent can provide office premises that a tenant is able to visit during office hours, and in many cases they will also provide an emergency out-of-hours service.
- An agent will build a database of expert local tradesmen who can deal with maintenance issues promptly, efficiently and at competitive rates. Because an agent deals with multiple properties a tradesman is more likely to act quickly to deal with any issues that a tenant has.
- Renting through a lettings agent provides tenants with redress via the Property Ombudsman should any complaints be unresolved regarding issues such as non-return of deposits.
- A reputable agent will ensure that landlords remain legally compliant and protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords.
- An agent will spend time conducting end of tenancy inspections and provide tenants and landlords with a detailed written report.