With the government releasing details on the Fairer Private Rented Sector, landlords and letting agents are looking for ways to maintain their properties and manage their tenants in a way that meets the requirements and protects their reputation.
It may only be a minority (roughly 12 per cent) of rental homes that don’t come up to scratch, but when that difference equates to serious health and safety risks for 1.6 million tenants, that percentage matters. According to the white paper, that proportion of the population are ‘living in dangerously low-quality homes, in a state of disrepair, with cold, damp, and mould, and without functioning bathrooms and kitchens.’. It’s not something any of us would expect in the 21st century.
Fortunately, most landlords aren’t rogue and provide comfortable, clean and healthy homes – but this new white paper does mean the good ones need to prove it. Inspections, inventories, auditable communication records, photos and reports are no longer just best practice – they’re essential evidence when demonstrating fair renting.
From allowing pets and actioning repairs to replacing no-fault evictions and prevent prejudice, the impending Bill covers a range of rights, responsibilities and issues.
What can landlords and letting agents do to prepare for this shake-up of the PRS?
Firstly, and most importantly, this shake-up is about levelling up to raise standards in private renting. If you’re not sure if you’re meeting renting standards, a good place to start is to familiarise yourself with your legal requirements and review the condition of your properties. For example:
- Check for health and safety risks such as fire, carbon monoxide poisoning and trip hazards and ensure the property meets current standards.
- Replace and repair any issues at the property, inside and out, at the time they are reported to avoid them becoming bigger problems.
- Check for mould, leaks, draughts and heating issues – and remedy them urgently. Educate your tenants on how to prevent condensation and damp, and how best to use the heating system year-round.
- Replace, redecorate or repair your bathrooms and kitchens if they are do not provide safe and adequate sanitation. Help your tenants to maintain these areas (unblock toilets, clean limescale, open windows, etc.) and introduce easy problem reporting processes.
If you’re already running a tight ship in lettings, that’s great – but can you prove it? Can you show that you fairly considered allowing pets, that you actioned a repair in the time required, and that you captured every important detail (in text and visually) in the interim property inspection?
The vast number of landlords and agents are maintaining comfortable, clean and safe homes but problems do arise, and you will need the processes in place to manage those effectively – and to keep a record of everything you’ve agreed and actioned.
Digital solutions for demonstrating compliance
The Government plans to provide a digital property portal where landlords must demonstrate their compliance to fairer renting (private landlords will have to register and join this portal to avoid penalty). One easy way to collate the evidence required to prove compliance is through an app like Inventory Hive.
This easy-to-use solution is accessed by both agent/landlord and tenant. It records every detail from property inspections (including 360 photos and videos), logs every repair and request, saves details of conversations and emails between parties, and prompts every user on legal requirements and key dates throughout the tenancy. It even helps to schedule property visits to maximise on fuel efficiency and time spent on the road. It does the hard work for you, so the admin doesn’t become a 24/7, logistical nightmare.
Whatever process you prefer, you must introduce a comprehensive system that ticks the many, many boxes that will be required in near future. This will not only help to demonstrate your commitment to raising standards in the PRS, your tenant will also be able to see your commitment as a landlord, which will help to forge strong relationships and reputation in the industry.
Learn more at inventoryhive.co.uk
*Mitch Handley is the Marketing Manager at Inventory Hive.