New measures to encourage longer fixed-term, family-friendly tenancies and raise standards in the private rented sector were announced by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles last week.
Under the plans, tenants will be able to request longer tenancies that provide stability for their family, avoid hidden fees when renting a home and demand a fair deal from their landlords and letting agents. These steps are aimed to improve the rental market, without strangling the sector with unnecessary rules and red tape and so tenants can get the best deal when they rent a home.
A new type of model agreement will ensure families can benefit from longer tenancies, without changing the existing legal framework for the rental market, and will give families greater certainty and security, and reduce costs for both tenants and landlords who will not have to pay fees to arrange frequent contract renewals.
A tenants’ charter will ensure all tenants know what to expect from their tenancy and, if something goes wrong, where to go for help. It will include recommended questions to ask before they agree to rent a property, the advantage of written tenancy agreements and what they should expect during the tenancy.
This will include greater transparency about lettings agents’ fees, ensuring would-be tenants know the full costs before they sign up to any contract. The charter will work alongside the new compulsory redress schemes for lettings agents, which will be able to investigate agents that have not been clear about fees and, where a complaint is upheld, require compensation is paid to the tenant.
Andrew & Rosemary Millican of Belvoir Macclesfield are proud of their existing procedures: “We have a very transparent fee structure for both
landlords and tenants and so we anticipate that these new measures will not affect the way we operate at all. However we are certainly ready to comply with any new requirements”, Andrew said.
“All our tenants are already given clearly written guidance notes regarding the application process and there is a very straightforward application fee structure with no hidden extras,” added Rosemary, “Before the tenancy agreement is signed, all parties are given a draft copy to check through, so they have time to take advice or raise queries with us prior to signing.”
Andrew also stressed that their renewals process kept costs down for all parties. “Our tenancies simply roll on to become monthly periodic tenancies unless tenant wants greater security of tenure and requests a further fixed term. If our tenancies become periodic, we simply confirm this to all parties, but there is never a fee for this.
“It has always been important to us that our procedures are clear and professional, our fees are fair with no hidden extras and that everything we do complies fully with all regulations.”
As Members of Safeagent (Safeagent Scheme) Belvoir Macclesfield have signed up to an Ombudsman service for landlords and tenants complaints, just like the compulsory scheme proposed. It also means their financial practices are scrutinised regularly and that they have Client Money Protection. As such Belvoir Macclesfield were founder members of the SafeAgent scheme.