Having the Rugg pulled out from under – ‘MOT Check’!

by Property 118

8:56 AM, 10th September 2018
About 2 years ago

Having the Rugg pulled out from under – ‘MOT Check’!

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Having the Rugg pulled out from under – ‘MOT Check’!

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has warned of risks within the flagship recommendation of the academic review into the private rented sector.

The Evolving Private Rented Sector, published today, is an academic review carried out by Dr Julie Rugg and David Rhodes, researchers at the University of York, and seeks to answers many questions about the state of play of the private rented sector and highlight what still needs to be answered.

One of the key recommendations from the report is that every property in the private rented sector should have an ‘MOT’ style check before being rented out. The Review proposes that this would be carried out by a suitably qualified professional, either from local authorities or the private sector, and paid for by the landlord. The aim is to ensure that the house is “decent and suitable for living in”, as well as being free of hazards.

Although this recommendation has the potential to improve conditions for renters and remove the postcode lottery element of housing enforcement, it is a significant leap and comes with a number of risks and questions:

  1. Who will be the privately paid professionals to provide an MOT certificate and who will regulate them to avoid corruption?
  2. What power will this “MOT check” have in potentially preventing enforcement work by local authorities?
  3. We are not sure what effect the “MOT check” system would have on the already scarce resources from local authorities for housing enforcement work.

Whilst CIEH supports more checks for privately rented housing in principle, it has called for these questions to be carefully considered before the Government fully embraces the proposed “MOT check” system.

CIEH has strongly welcomed the Review’s additional recommendations calling for the licensing and registration of all landlords, and stricter standards to be upheld for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), where people from different households live together and share amenities.

Tamara Sandoul, Housing Manager for the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said:

“This Review makes some bold and strategic recommendations about reform to the private rented sector. Whilst an MOT-style scheme sounds like a simple solution which could bring big improvements to rented housing, it also comes with some serious risks attached.

One of these is local authorities being left with few resources to investigate any corruption or fraud within such a system. The detailed design and implementation is key to an MOT-style system that is an improvement on the status quo.

The environmental health profession would support more private rented housing being inspected regularly, but we need to ensure that the people doing the inspections are fully qualified to make this kind of assessment. Getting the incentives right for any private contractors is also critical, as landlords would be paying for a service and expecting a certificate at the end.

The licensing or registration of all landlords is particularly important and is a recommendation we fully support – providing someone with a safe home requires knowledge and responsibility. Unfortunately, most landlords are currently operating anonymously. Bringing this profession out into the open is key to instilling a sense of duty and care that landlords owe to their tenants.”



Comments

Simon Williams

16:02 PM, 11th September 2018
About 2 years ago

Admittedly I haven't seen the detail in this review, but the idea of an annual property MOT sounds terrible to me. There are various objective safety things one could check like gas, electrics, smoke alarms - but certification of these are already covered by specific criminal legislation (electrics about to be extended to all properties) AND tenants are told in the government's guide to renting to check those are given to them. AND if they are not handed over, a landlord cannot gain possession.

So, there's no point having a property inspector checking all those unless we believe that tenants should be devoid of all personal responsibility to even do that for themselves. And of course, vast numbers of properties are now subject to licensing regimes anyway and the LA already wants to see all those docs.

So, then there's the more subjective stuff - like the condition of the bathroom, the amenities in the kitchen, the state of the carpets etc. How will an MOT work there? One person's dodgy bathroom/carpet is another person's OK bathroom/carpet. And surely we can expect the tenants to judge that when they do their viewings?

Given the millions of PRS properties, we would need a very large army of new pencil pushers who, nine times out of ten, will produce a report of very little added value to the average tenant. Given that they would be looking at the entire property, I would also expect the fee to be potentially far higher than a gas check. I reckon anywhere between £75 + vat for a small flat to several hundred for a large house if the scheme is self-funding.

So, this is not really like an MOT in reality. Your car is checked against OBJECTIVE safety criteria - often covering things that it is quite hard for a buyer to spot. I see little equivalent to the dodgy bathroom or kitchen with inadequate amenities - and unlike the car, with rented property, a pre-existing certification process exists for the key safety matters.

I don't have to give specific proof to a buyer that my tyre tread depth or exhaust emissions or steering is ok, so the MOT helps (a bit) on that. I DO have to give a tenant proof that the usual safety matters have been checked and the rest they can check easily with their own eyes.

The real problem with the PRS is under-supply due to excessive rules, red tape, regulation and taxation, to which this will just add.

It won't surprise me either, if the likes of the RLA or ARLA support these so-called MOTs. They will sense a commercial opportunity here.

Mick Roberts

16:50 PM, 11th September 2018
About 2 years ago

Good words Simon, U convincing me against my earlier thoughts, MOT might not work.
And like AA said, Council would probably do it in ADDITION to Licensing.
I was just thinking it might be an alternative to Licensing, as us in Nottingham have been subject to the brutal pricing & conditions of Nottingham Council Selective Licensing, so we saying come MOT us instead of Licensing, as they now admit they using our money to go after the bad Landlords. Whereas if MOT, we was hoping much cheaper cost for the good landlords.

LANDLORD 35

18:58 PM, 11th September 2018
About 2 years ago

In the case of a licensed HMO this would mean gaining entry
once a year for this so called MOT, twice a year for the smoke alarm check, gas safety check, once every three years for the
NIC certificate and every five years for the licensing inspection,
followed by needing access to complete the work required to
comply with the license and then the re visit to check the work has been done. Then the tenant sues the landlord because he hasn't had the right to the quiet enjoyment of his property.

Simon Williams

19:55 PM, 11th September 2018
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 11/09/2018 - 16:50
Hello Mick. Totally share your frustrations with selective licensing, which is spinning out of control. But if there is one thing I learnt as a former senior civil servant - it's that red tape, once introduced, is virtually impossible to cut.

So, I would see this MOT thing morphing into a virtual licence for ALL rented property and requiring a yearly visit from a pen pusher instead of every 5 years under licensing. Even if its backers think it's a possible "light-touch" alternative to licensing, I would wager money that it would quite soon be turned into a bureaucrats' charter, with ever more bells and whistles being added to the checks every year - and rising fees to boot.

To the RLA and others who foolishly back this - I say be careful what you wish for.

Ross McColl

12:00 PM, 12th September 2018
About 2 years ago

Yet again another proposal which in reality is a complete farce. I can just see it now. An inspector with no qualifications, working for a private company, which also happens to have a maintenance arm has declared that a property is unsafe due to extensive damp. Sorry, I mean condensation. Where is the measuring stick and who marks it up??
Another blunt instrument with no link to the real world or any practical implications. I wonder what it is like to live in such an idealistic world.

Joe Armstrong

18:01 PM, 15th September 2018
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Ross McColl at 12/09/2018 - 12:00
If its in private hands, it'll be exactly as Ross describes. If its in the LA's hands it's just another source of revenue from the cash cow for the greedy councils.

David Price

23:54 PM, 15th September 2018
About 2 years ago

It will help to fulfil the governments desire to increase rents. Loss of wear and tear allowance, S24, SDLT, EPC's etc were just the start of the government's drive to increase rents. There will be further attacks on the tenants for whom I have a great deal of sympathy.

Michael Barnes

15:53 PM, 20th September 2018
About 2 years ago

And the criminal landlords would have one more piece of legislation to ignore with impunity.

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