Labour Party proposals designed to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords and agents are set to backfire
Belvoir WARNS THAT ‘FLAWED’PROPOSALS COULD HARM TENANTS
Major campaign launched to raise awareness and action amongst local MP’s
Labour Party proposals designed to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords and agents are set to backfire - resulting in higher rents and a dramatic drop in quality rented housing.
That’s the stark warning from Belvoir, one of the UK’s largest lettings agencies, that is rapidly gathering support in a campaign to inform MP’s and tenants about the flawed policies being put forward by the current Opposition party.
Belvoir, which has over 150 offices throughout the UK, including one at West Derby in Liverpool, manages a portfolio of over 30,000 properties. It says that Labour’s controversial proposals, which include the banning of tenancy fees, introduction of rental caps and statutory long term rental agreements will only help rogue landlords and agents to introduce higher rents ‘by the back door’.
“The truth is that each and every day professional, responsible and reputable agents, who charge a reasonable and proportionate fee for the services they provide, actually SAVE tenants’ money,” says Dorian Gonsalves, Commercial Director at Belvoir.
“Those agents who don’t follow the rules - and there are still a lot of them out there – may appear to be cheaper by offering a ‘cut price’ service, but in many cases this service could be inadequate and fail in meeting certain legal requirements that could prove costly for both landlords and tenants in the longer term.”
“Self-regulating agencies, such as Belvoir, provide high levels of service, expertise and objectivity when managing landlord/client relationships and we ensure that tenants’ interests are always safeguarded and protected – particularly when dealing with issues such as maintenance or breakage costs and end of tenancy disagreements.”
Labour is also proposing the introduction of capped rental increases across the country, and yet the majority of landlords have not increased rent levels at all since 2008. 
“However, if interest rates rise – as they are widely predicted to do – a cap on rents could have a real negative impact on many landlords, who could be forced to sell off their property portfolios, thereby reducing even further the UK’s much need stock of private rented properties,” added Dorian.
Adam Rastall who runs the Belvoir office on Mill Lane in West Derby, says: “As a company that is consistently recognised and awarded top honours by UK’s property industry for our professional and ethical approach, we have taken a lead in contacting MP’s throughout each region to make them fully aware of the benefits and high levels of protection that professional, self regulating agents provide to tenant clients.
“We have been joined in the campaign by other leading independent industry bodies, including the National Association of Lettings Agents (Safeagent), the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) and the Royal Association of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), since we all share a passion for maintaining the highest possible standards of professionalism within our industry.
“We intend to fight Labour’s proposals in order to protect tenants from falling prey to many of the rogue landlords and agents which, sadly, still exist. We believe these proposed policies are unworkable, not properly thought through and ultimately will only harm the interests of housing tenants.”
“It’s a message that we want all existing or prospective tenants to hear and many of our offices throughout the UK are already receiving a very positive response from their local MP’s, keen to understand more in depth about these important issues.”
Dorian Gonsalves added: “Belvoir, along with all other reputable agents, wants to see Government bring in regulation for the entire sector - but it is essential that we, along with other professional bodies, are given the opportunity to help shape the future of such regulation so that both tenants and landlords can be assured of a high quality and transparent service in the future.”
 Findings supported by Belvoir’s nationwide Rental Index survey which tracks and monitors property rental prices throughout the UK.
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.
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.
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.
Professional lettings agents 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.