Fixed-Term Tenancies: A Crucial Choice for Tenants and Landlords
At R&G Property Bristol, we firmly oppose the proposed elimination of fixed-term tenancies. Our survey of agents revealed that over 93% believe such a move would have a detrimental impact on both agents and landlords. Fixed-term agreements offer security for tenants and guarantee rent payments for landlords. They are especially vital for tenants with low income or poor credit, providing confidence to guarantors about the duration of their commitment. In the student rental market, fixed terms align with the academic year, making it essential for facilitating property availability. While we support measures to prevent students from overstaying, offering private tenants the choice between fixed-term and rolling periodic tenancy is a more practical solution.
Grounds for Possession: Strengthening Landlord Protections
The removal of Section 21 raises significant concerns among landlords, who lack confidence that the remaining grounds offer sufficient protection. Instances of tenancy fraud, such as the use of fake documents, have surged by 120% between January 2022 and January 2023. We urge for mandatory grounds for eviction, including breach of tenancy, property deterioration, and obtaining a tenancy through false statements. Clear principles for judges to consider in cases of anti-social behaviour are crucial for a fair and efficient process.
Regulating Agents to Elevate Standards
R&G Property Bristol continues to advocate for the regulation of property agents. Properly regulated agents will play a vital role in implementing proposed reforms. Standard improvements through qualifications and official regulation are key to ensuring compliance. The recent announcement requiring property managers in the social rented sector to obtain professional qualifications sets a precedent that should be extended to the private rented sector for consistency and quality of service.
Consistent Redress Schemes: Clarity for Consumers
Propertymark asserts that only fully self-managing landlords should join a redress scheme. However, existing schemes must align to avoid inconsistencies in agent complaint procedures and provide clarity for consumers. The lack of uniform criteria between the Property Ombudsman and the Property Redress Scheme poses challenges for customers, who are often unaware of the complaint process. Ensuring consistency in redress procedures is paramount before expanding membership.
Mandatory Inventories: A Path to Reduced Disputes
While the Bill proposes written statements to address the lack of a legal requirement for tenancy agreements, R&G Property Bristol suggests an enhanced tenancy agreement with an inventory. This approach, including check-in and check-out reports, would streamline the end-of-tenancy process, reducing disputes and ensuring a faster, more straightforward resolution.
Flexibility on Pets: Striking a Fair Balance
R&G Property Bristol recommends greater flexibility in setting deposit levels to account for potential pet-related damages. Under the Tenant Fees Act, deposit limits are capped, but a clearer definition of unreasonable refusal for keeping pets is needed. Propertymark urges the government to provide guidance and examples to avoid ambiguity in practice. Achieving a balanced approach will benefit both landlords and tenants.
In conclusion, R&G Property Bristol believes that preserving fixed-term tenancies, strengthening grounds for possession, regulating agents, ensuring consistent redress schemes, implementing mandatory inventories, and providing flexibility on pet policies are crucial steps to maintaining a fair and effective rental market in the UK.