Headlines across the lettings industry often focus on the behaviour of ‘rogue’ landlords – those that are slow to become compliant with new legislation; that let properties that are unfit for human habitation; and who turn a blind eye to occupancy levels.
But does this give us a fair representation of what the lettings market is really like? In a world where more and more people chose to rent due to being unable to afford to buy their own property, should they fear the prospect of coming across an unscrupulous landlord? While the media would often lead us to believe this, I’d argue otherwise.
Certainly, landlords have been subject to numerous legislative changes and crackdowns in recent times – new fire safety regulations; confirmation of the introduction of 'right to rent'; and tighter monitoring of HMO capacity limits to name a few.
However, while we hear the horror stories of non-compliance and when things go wrong, it is my opinion that the majority of landlords ARE willing to embrace change and act willingly to ensure adherence to new rules and regulations.
Yes, it is true that some landlords are more concerned about change than others and need more education about what to do and it is here that as agents we have a significant role to play in ensuring that the industry isn’t viewed as a community of rogues.
While responsibility for adherence to laws and guidance sits with the landlord, as agents we do need to take on the role of an advisor and as such we’re not devoid of responsibility.
At Andrews we take the role of the advisor very seriously, placing education and guidance centrally to our relationship with our landlords.
We’ve been running property sessions for landlords for over two years and regularly provide communications to them via email, our blog and social media platforms, on legislative changes and regulations that they need to be aware of.
They’re also regularly invited in to our branches for training sessions to ensure their knowledge is up to date.
However, given that ultimate responsibility sits with the landlord, when we’re faced with one who chooses to bury their head in the sand or, worse still, consciously flouts the rules we tend to walk away!
We put a strong emphasis on doing our job well and ethically, and ensuring that our customers are following the rules is essential to our business and our reputation – as an industry, let’s ensure we share this view and make ‘rogue’ landlords a thing of a past.
*David Westgate is Managing Director of Andrews Letting & Management