Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Moves to improve rental standards

A Shropshire solicitor has welcomed plans calling for tougher regulation of the rented property sector.
Nita Patel, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, said the Law Commission was investigating after they found a large amount of privately rented property was in a poor condition and was poorly managed.

“They have published a consultation document which looks at ways in which the private rented sector could be regulated more effectively, in the hope that landlords will take more responsibility for setting higher standards.

“The sector currently has a poor image, with people believing standards in such properties are low, and so it’s vital that things are improved if rented property is to fill the gaps in the increasingly difficult housing market.”

Nita said in many areas, local authorities were working with private landlords to offer a range of services, and codes of good practice had been set up.
“But the difficulty comes because the majority of private landlords do not belong to such schemes, and so enforcement is almost impossible.”

Nita said the consultation document suggests a partnership approach is the only way forward – this way the industry can take responsibility for ensuring the key standards, which are already set out in legislation, are met.

“The hope is that all private landlords will either join a local authority accreditation scheme; become a member of one of the associations of private landlords; or let their premises through an accredited letting agent.

“Changes such as this will help to ensure tenants are protected and that they are offered properties which are habitable and well-managed.”

Under the new proposals, which are out for consultation until October, the Government would also give a central organisation powers to approve industry schemes and to ensure they worked effectively.
The plans would too, as a last resort, be able to prevent a landlord or agent not signed up to one of the approved schemes from letting residential property.