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A step closer to regulation

This week has seen a flurry of reporting about the proposed landlord licensing scheme. It appears the inevitable policing of landlords and letting agents is drawing closer, although from what I read, we don’t know in what form.

“There is currently no licensing scheme for letting agents, but 95 per cent of consumers believe there should be”, according to ARLA. This seems a large percentage, which may be true, although when questioning some of the agents we work for, their response indicates a different view.

Either way, whether it’s right or not that landlords and agents need licensing, I believe there should be standards within the letting industry which dictate minimum levels of cleanliness and repair. We often see landlords and tenants complaining about each other with regard to the condition or cleanliness of a property.

Only this week I attended a check-out where, having first been warned by the agent to anticipate trouble, I expected to find a property in poor condition following a 6 month let. With the thought of having to referee between landlord and tenant, I decided to familiarise myself with the original inventory to obtain a feel for the properties’ original condition. Even though I had not completed the original inventory or seen the property prior, it was clear from the inventory, this property was in less than perfect condition when the tenants moved in.

To my relief, both parties were not present and I was left to conduct the inspection unhindered. Despite near ‘magnifying glass’ viewing of each component, I could find very little change between that listed and that seen.

In fact I struggled to find something to say that would warrant my fee. Without much to report, I indicated the property seemed to have changed little and was left in a tidy and clean condition.

2 days following, my client informed me that the landlord was extremely annoyed at the state of the property, further, he said he’d incurred great cost in cleaning and repair. I felt initially that I must have been to the wrong property and offered to return to confirm my original findings. It was then I was told this landlord was well-known for claiming against tenants for unwarranted cleaning etc.

Sadly, regulation may be needed because of this attitude, an attitude which I’m glad we don’t see very often.

It is not unusual that my clients and I discuss what we believe to be a good or bad property. We generally agree about which property may turn out to be ‘hard work’ during its tenancy. Those which start out dirty or in poor repair are those which seem to have the most management work. The better a properties’ condition at tenancy start, the more chance there are of few tenant complains. Not only this, but often tenants will leave a clean property in a similar or better condition at end.

I hear some saying “there are properties not worth letting”, they indicate that “these are sure to be too much hassle and generally are subject of argument when tenants leave”. The poorer a property, the more complaints they receive, it seems.

On the other side of the coin of course, there are those tenants which leave properties in poor condition, despite it being good when they first took occupation. We all hear or read of the proverbial horror story. However I believe to raise the level of what we may call a ‘good let’, it appears the better the property at tenancy start, the more chance of it being left in similar condition at end.

With the large number of failed landlord claims, according to reports, the better chance of landlord support if the original inventory shows the property in a good condition.

Jonathan Senior