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Buy-to-Let Watch: The lessons of ‘Vent Your Rent’

With thousands of tenants sharing tales of shoddy treatment, it is time for the sector to become more professional to combat such problems

It seems the past few weeks have seen a higher focus than ever put on the rental sector and whether it is fit for purpose.

Twitter feeds have been filled with the #VentYourRent hashtag, with thousands of frustrated people sharing their stories of shocking treatment and shoddy properties.

What is more, a report by housing academic Dr Julie Rugg has called for all rented homes in England to have an annual property MOT to address the issue of sub-standard living conditions.

Meanwhile, the draft ‘tenant fees bill’ passed its third reading in Parliament, bringing it one step closer to coming into play, with local government minister Rishi Sunak stating: “Tenants across the country, whatever their income, should not be hit with unfair costs by agents or landlords.” Then, of course, there is the discussion around three-year tenancies, to give tenants more security. All of these issues point to an undisputable fact: that as much as we would like to believe all landlords are hardworking, upstanding and above board, there are clearly a number who are not.

This is nothing new, of course. The issue of low-standard accommodation and irresponsible landlords has been a problem for the industry for years. As the rental landscape changes and more people are seeing the benefits in staying in such accommodation for longer, they are demanding more from properties.

But it is not just the obvious bad apples that are the problem. There is also the issue of those landlords that are decent but inexperienced and therefore do not recognise the standards they need to be adhering to.

The industry must become more professional to combat such problems. This is not to say we should be pushing out smaller landlords in favour of professional investors and institutions. Indeed, I have spoken many times about the need for the industry to cater to landlords of all sizes. But we do need to ensure landlords understand what is required of them. A greater sense of standards and responsibilities in the mortgage industry since ‘M Day’ – the day the FSA took over regulation – has improved things immeasurably. Now we need to see the same improvements in the landlord sector.

Ying Tan is managing director of the Buy to Let Club

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