Protect yourself from unscrupulous landlords
TENANTS suffering ‘major problems’ are currently highlighting the importance of renting through a professional agent.
Major problems such as damp, mould, electrical hazards, gas leaks and animal infestation have been experienced by 61 per cent of tenants renting in the private sector, according to a new report released by Shelter and British Gas.
The report largely points the finger at ill-informed, amateur and accidental landlords.
According to the report, more than a quarter of landlords have no previous experience of letting out a property, and almost half (43pc) do not regard renting as a proper business.
Carole Charge, Jordan’s technical and compliance director, said: “This research emphasises how vital it is for tenants to be selective over who they rent through.
“Most tenants choose their agent or landlord by default, based on the property that best fits their requirements, and are not aware that landlords and agents do not all abide by the same standards.
“This is because there is still no formal regulation in place to prevent landlords and agents who have no experience, qualifications, client money protection or knowledge of the law from practising.
“Ironically, there are 100 plus rules and regulations that a property has to pass to be let legally, yet there is no legal requirement for the people actually carrying out the letting to prove that they understand and will comply with them.”
In the absence of formal regulation, the only way for tenants to protect themselves is to rent through an agent who is a member of a professional, self-regulating organisation such as ARLA, RICS or NAEA, which requires members to abide by a strict code of conduct.
“The lack of regulation of the market allows unscrupulous agents and landlords, as well as naïve ones, to provide substandard properties and charge extortionate fees and rents in areas of short supply,” said Ms Charge.
“The fact is, the majority of tenants who use self-regulated landlords and letting agents do not experience the kinds of problems outlined in this report.
“However, around 35pc of letting agents are not members of a professional organisation and just one in 20 landlords belong to an accreditation scheme, which means the public is still very vulnerable to bad practice.”
To help tenants protect themselves, Jordan’s advice is to make sure that their chosen agent will do all the following, as part of their standard service:
Ensure that the property has passed an electrical safety and gas safety inspection and give the tenant a copy of the Gas Safety Record before moving in.
Check the property is free from condensation, mould, damp, blocked drains or sewage issues.
Check that all soft furnishings comply with fire safety regulations.
Carry out thorough health and safety checks, beyond the statutory obligations, and take action to minimise potential hazards, for example, making sure that ponds are covered, safety glass is installed, swimming pools are fenced off, and banisters fitted and in good repair.
Give prospective tenants a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before viewing properties so they can make an informed decision.
Provide Tenancy Agreements written in plain English, with no unfair terms and conditions, as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Hold the deposit in accordance with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) and have Client Money Protection in place.
Draw up a detailed Inventory and Schedule of Condition at the start of the tenancy, agreed by both tenant and landlord.
Ensure that the tenant’s rights are protected during the tenancy, this includes the right to quiet enjoyment of the property as their own home, with at least 24 hours’ written notice given before a visit by the letting agent or landlord, except in an emergency.
For more information visit www.jordans properties.com.
●● Tenants are reportedly suffering major problems at the hands of amateur and ill-informed landlords. Inset, Carole Charge, from Jordan’s