Alternative to licensing/accreditation?  Bad landlords, look away now!

by Kirsty McGregor

13:59 PM, 11th September 2013
About 8 years ago

Alternative to licensing/accreditation? Bad landlords, look away now!

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Alternative to licensing/accreditation?  Bad landlords, look away now!

Following on from the discussion entitled “Raising Standards or Raising Funds” it appears that the majority of readers agree that additional and selective licensing and property based accreditation schemes run by local authorities are not necessarily the best route forward. However, there does need to be a simple way of differentiating better quality landlords/properties for tenants in my opinion.

If the sector can self-regulate as much as possible, it would be certainly better than any government intervention.

So what about a simple graded quality rating for rental properties?

Much like the star rating system in hotels, it would be an idea that tenants would easily understand.

When it became an industry standard, rental prices would reflect the rating of the property.

What do you think should be included in such a star rating though?

Comment s/thoughts welcome from both landlords, tenants and letting agents.

Regards

Kirsty 5 star rated buy to let properties

Comments

Richard Lord

17:08 PM, 13th September 2013
About 8 years ago

I have read the comments with interest and feel the need to comment from a regulatory position, I am an ex local authority EHO just starting as a independent consultant.

From my position as neither landlord nor tenant one of the most important things to consider is fire safety, electrical safety and adequate amenity provision. As this discussion started from an HMO licensing string I think that any self regulation scheme must just do that, It should be able to prove that the HMO management regulations are being complied with properly and that fire safety risk assesments are propelry undertaken and reviewed.

Then of course there Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 ( HHSRS) and the removal of any category 1 hazards for example damp and mould growth, fire safety, excess cold etc. Could any self regulation scheme require all properties to be assessed against the HHSRS 29 hazards befor a star is awarded? and what about a star for proving that the HMO management regs are compled with through regular audited checks.

I think that self regulation is an excellent idea to take the pressure off local councils facing cuts. They need to enforce against those who cannot or will not make the effort to comply leaving those who comply or ask for assistance to comply and do a good job (and can prove it through a proper audit trail) alone to manage.

Kirsty McGregor

17:11 PM, 13th September 2013
About 8 years ago

Hi Mary, you started by saying "Good landlords are tired of “paying” because of bad landlords. This is why we deeply resent HMO licensing"...I know! but that's because you don't get any benefit from paying for all this stuff. Tenants have no idea & so it makes no difference to the good landlords (apart from some schemes that give council discounts etc), but still it's not enough to make it commercial viable proposition for them.

re the glass ceiling....where there is high demand for properties (London for example) it probably won't work. That's why I won't bother targeting London. It's not necessary for landlords to help them let properties there. But in other areas of the country, where voids are growing, we want to break that glass ceiling. You can do that as a landlord on your own. You need a recognised 'stamp' to help you market that difference. And a whole host of PR, marketing, education of the market etc.

Satisfaction surveys - what a great idea! But again, they aren't nationally recognised or in a standard format, therefore until you get to speak to a tenant 1-2-1 (which you probably do as you're a great landlord with a professional approach) you can't tell them about your satisfaction surveys. How do you get them through the door when you are differentiating your property on price/location alone from a website? Photos are great. But a star rating would provide a lot more comfort to a tenant.

Agreed, it's not necessary for all the market. But where it's needed, in the sectors that will value it, wouldn't it be a great idea if it worked?

Kirsty McGregor

17:16 PM, 13th September 2013
About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by " " at "13/09/2013 - 17:08":

Hi Richard, Yep HHSRS is taken into account definitely. Anything with a Cat1 hazard wouldn't be given any rating. HMO standards don't apply to most properties, but all best practice would be incorporated into all rating surveys. Thanks for your comments!

Anon

17:18 PM, 13th September 2013
About 8 years ago

Maybe we will get it if you give us a specific example of where this might help a landlord to find a tenant Kirsty. Location, type of property etc.

Mary Latham

17:28 PM, 13th September 2013
About 8 years ago

Kirsty I actually do not want to break the glass ceiling because rising rents causes resentment - you have only to read the media who think that all rents are rising and not just those in certain areas.

As I said with rises in rents come rises in tenants expectations and consequently the day to day workload of the landlord AND this does not always mean better tenants or more profit.

I am really happy with my rental incomes and the investments I make in my properties, my tenants have given me financial freedom since 1980 and no one has ever left one of my properties having been unhappy or uncomfortable living there. That is success in my opinion.

I might be wrong but if you are hoping to appeal to those landlords who do want an increase in their rent I think that you will find they are the very landlords who will not pay for the service that you are offering.

Richard that is why so many local authorities support the accreditation as I have outlined it in my previous post. They can leave the accreditation scheme to deal with its members while they concentrate on the criminal landlords and make a real difference to the the vulnerable tenants who have very little choice when renting from a private landlord. In the West Midlands the scheme is "owned" by the Homestamp consortium which is made up of all the local authorities, fire, police, landlords associations, universities and student bodies (see http://www.homestamp.com and http://www.mlas-online.com)

Follow me on Twitter@landlordtweets

My book, where I warn about the storm clouds that are gathering for landlords is here >>> http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1484855337

Kirsty McGregor

17:29 PM, 13th September 2013
About 8 years ago

Yes of course, I did that Anon on the previous reply to one of Mary's posts.

"We think the typical properties/landlords we will see are:
- props aimed at family or professional lets
- above average quality, want to obtain higher rentals & attract tenants who have higher standards (who will hopefully look after it better)
- landlord probably not a professional landlord with countless properties & therefore able to rely on his/her reputation – probably less properties, less experienced, may not live close to the property etc"

And I'd just add to that they would have to be in competition for finding tenants - don't think this will work in the current London market.

Hope that explains it a bit more where we think it will work. Not really as beneficial (at the start of growing the brand recognition) for LHA, student lets, or professional landlords with large portfolios.

Kirsty McGregor

17:31 PM, 13th September 2013
About 8 years ago

Having said that, and just to chuck something else into the mix...we have actually been asked to trial this for one city council (not in South East) for some of their HMOs with LHA tenants.

So who knows where it could actually evolve to...one Private Standards LA Housing Officer wants to look at it as an option for what they are trying to do (in fact, it was the first & only one we've asked so far, and they've said "yes"). But I expect that's for the longer term development of it really.

Mary Latham

17:33 PM, 13th September 2013
About 8 years ago

Kirsty which parts of the country are you targeting under that criteria?

If a local authority is involved landlords will run for the hills. They would love something like this, it would make their jobs so much easier but will landlords love it quite so much? I don't think so and they are your potential customers

Follow me on Twitter@landlordtweets

My book, where I warn about the storm clouds that are gathering for landlords is here >>> http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1484855337

Kirsty McGregor

17:50 PM, 13th September 2013
About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mary Latham" at "13/09/2013 - 17:33":

It will be a national approach overall, but excluding much effort in London. Having spoken to, and continuing to speak to, a lot of landlords (large/professional & small and /or amateur alike) outside of the big cities, there are properties in weaker areas, in all towns, which are more difficult to keep let.

Just trying to find the latest stats about the regional picture. All I can find quickly is this from NLA website:

"At a regional level, voids are greatest in the North East of England where 60 per cent of landlords have experienced empty periods in the last three months"

- now the headline said voids are down 5% (but it seems to have increased earlier in 2013), but 60% had voids in last 3 months...that can't be good!

And Carolyn's statement said: ‘However, it is worrying that void periods often come as a surprise to landlords. Whilst voids represent more of a problem in the north than in the south, where demand is far higher, it is imperative that empty properties are filled quickly, following any necessary maintenance and improvements.’

Kirsty McGregor

17:54 PM, 13th September 2013
About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mary Latham" at "13/09/2013 - 17:33":

Haha you are right about LAs & landlords Mary. I think the benefit of working with the Local Authorities will be just on the LHA & emergency housing teams...not so much with the private standards' teams overall. But if there was a reason & benefit for landlords to have a 1* or a 2* rating, it would help widen the recognition across the board.

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