How GOOD landlords can be even better!

How GOOD landlords can be even better!

16:14 PM, 20th July 2012, About 11 years ago

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GOOD Landlords CampaignI have often wondered how GOOD landlords can be even better and gain positive PR as a result and I think I’ve come up with the answer.

You may recall that I canvassed opinion from readers of Property118 last year on starting “The GOOD Landlords Campaign“. There was a lot of interest but we never managed to get it off the ground because we couldn’t find a corporate sponsor. Therefore, it’s down to me, and you, in fact all landlords to make this happen and get some positive PR for landlords going for a change.

A concern for many tenants is the ability to be able to stay in a property for a longer period than mortgage lenders will allow landlords to offer tenancy agreements for. Just recently the housing charity “Shelter” have campaigned for 5 year tenancies. This will not work becuase it would put landlords in breach of their buy to let mortgage conditions. However, I do have a solution 🙂

It must be aweful for a family to go to all the expense of moving home and getting their children settled into a new school only to be served with a section 21 notice after six months just because the landlord has decided to sell up or move back into their property. It happened to a friend of mine  – twice!

What I’m going to be doing from now on is offering a side agreement to all of my tenants, new and existing. This will be a private contract and will not affect the tenancy agreement or the conditions imposed by my mortgage lender.

What some tenants really want is a longer term commitment from their landlord but there are several reasons that landlords can’t offer one even if they’d want to. The main reason is that anything other than a 6 or 12 month AST would put them in breach of their buy-to-let mortgage conditions. Another problem is that nobody really wants to be absolutely tied into a long term contract, landlords don’t, tenants don’t. This is because none of us know how our situations might change. However, I, like most landlords, want good tenants to stay for as long as they continue to be good tenants. I know that thousands of other landlords feel the same way.

The GOOD Landlords solution

With the above in mind I asked solicitor Tessa Shepperson of Landlord Law to draw up a “deed of assurance” which stands alone from the AST. It says that so long as my tenants stick to their commitments as outlined in the AST (and beyond when the basis of tenancy reverts to a statutory periodic tenancy) I do not intend to serve them notice for a period of at least X number of years. I accept that circumstances might change, HOWEVER, I’m prepared to put my money where my mouth is.

If I do serve notice (and I reserve all rights to do that) I will refund my tenants FIVE TIMES the deposit that I’m holding for them, providing of course they have complied with all terms within their AST. It may or may not fully compensate them for the inconvenience and their moving costs but I think most people would agree that it’s a very honourable gesture and one that a lot of tenants would be very grateful to be offered. Furthermore, my deed says that I will not increase rent by more that the Retail Price Index.

Tessa asked me to spell out exactly what the “deed of assurance” would offer in “Bob the builder language”. I did exactly that, hopefully it will make you smile:-

Hello Tenant

I am your landlord – name, address etc.

You are my tenant – name, address etc.

You will soon be renting a property from me at ……..

We have agreed that I will rent the above property to you on a 6 month assured shorthold tenancy agreement.

You want to stay in the property for a long time but we have agreed that it is not in either of our best interests to commit to a long term tenancy agreement. I can’t do this anyway because my mortgage lender will not let me.

I’m in this business for the long term and have no intentions of moving into the property, selling it or letting it to anybody else. The three most important things to me are that you:-

1)      Pay your rent on time

2)      Respect the property

3)      Respect the neighbours

The three points I’ve made above are standard conditions of an assured shorthold tenancy.

Providing you observe all of the conditions in the tenancy agreement I will not serve you notice to leave the property within X years unless I absolutely have to. We both accept that circumstances can change, e.g. I could die or get divorced.

You will not be committed to anything other than the tenancy agreement. 

I also promise not to increase your rent by more than the Retail Price Index as a way to force you to leave early and I will also maintain the property as I am required to do by law and as set out in the tenancy agreement.

If I do need to serve you notice to vacate the property within X years then I promise to pay you X times your rent deposit to compensate you for the inconvenience of you having to find a new home.

I will not pay X times your rent deposit if I choose to serve notice because you have not complied with the conditions within the tenancy agreement. If there is a disagreement between us over whether you have broken the terms of the tenancy agreement you will have the right to make a claim against me after you have vacated the property.

We have agreed that you may be paying slightly over the odds to rent my property based on this assurance. We have agreed that if you go to a rent tribunal to get the rent reduced this agreement will no longer be valid. 

This is a private agreement between the two of us, it separate from tenancy agreement and does not impact on the tenancy agreement or any of our other legal rights.

Please sign on the dotted line if you are happy with this.

With love from your GOOD landlord.”

Obviously Tessa’s final version is a lot better than mine but it is still written in plain English. 

No landlord who chooses to sponsor the good landlords campaign will be compelled to offer a “deed of assurance” as described above. Landlords who sponsor “The GOOD Landlords Campaign” may choose to offer “deeds of assurance” to just a few of their tenants. A key point here is Landlords will have the choice. They may choose never to offer a “deed of assurance” but still be supportive of the principles and that’s fine too as its all good PR. Eventually tenants will know to look for the GOOD Landlords Campaign badge and ask for a “deed of assurance” if they feel they need one. If a landlord declines the tenant will be able to choose whether to rent from that landlord or look for another landlord offering the “deed of assurance” they require.

I will not be offering a “deed of assurance” to all tenants but where I do offer this arrangement my tenants will know exactly where they stand.

Charging a Premium

In the early stages of The GOOD Landlords Campaign, very few landlords will be offering tenants a “deed of assurance” and scarcity brings with it the economics of supply and demand. There may be a possibility for landlords offering “deeds of assurance” to charge premium rents.

Longer Term Intentions To Promote GOOD Landlords

I am hopeful that other readers of Property118 will think the GOOD landlords Campaign and is a good idea and follow the same practice.

I have created a “Sponsors” badge if you want to sign up to this concept. The more badges we can get out there on peoples websites, on their stationery and reported in the media the better.

I’m hopeful that tenant groups and housing charities will pick up on this and promote the “deed of assurance” concept and the GOOD Landlords Campaign too.

If you would like to follow my lead, use the badge and receive a copy of the “deed of assurance” template which has been drafted by Tessa Shepperson of Landlord Law then I invite you to become a sponsor. I plan to use the sponsorship money to raise the profile of the GOOD Landlords Campaign. I’ve paid for the design of the badge out of my own pocket and Tessa has produced the “deed of assurance” out of the goodness of her heart bless her! Once enough money has been raised I will begin to invest into building a website just for sponsors so that tenants and other groups can easily identify landlords who sponsor The GOOD Landlords Campaign. If it’s really successful and a lot of money is raised I will invest into PR. At some point I will form a formal committee and a company limited by guarantee and hand over the project to that committee in it’s entirety. I want nothing out of this other than the recognition of putting it all together.

I WILL be offering “deeds of assurance” myself. I hope you will join me by completing the form below and making a minimum sponsors donation of ÂŁ50. Obviously if you can afford more that’s great and I give you my personal assurance that all money raised will only be spent as I’ve indicated above.

When the form below is completed  and submitted (FORM TO FOLLOW – WE HAVE NOT OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED YET) and the sponsorship payment is processed you will receive a welcome email with the following attachments:-

  1. The GOOD Landlords campaign badge as shown above
  2. Code for The GOOD Landlords Campaign badge so that you can use it on your website
  3. The “deed of assurance” template drafted by Solicitor Tessa Shepperson of Landlord Law.

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