At our November member meeting we had a short discussion on the use of Property MoT’s. Is it yet more bureaucracy or might they be useful? It is interesting that the Labour manifesto proposes to mandate Property MoT’s – could this be one area where local landlords agree with an aspect of the Labour Party housing policy?
We actually suggest that we may need to go further and should be thinking about offering Tenancy MoT’s…
Firstly, what is a Property MoT? Think of it as a document you give to a tenant when they view a property or when they move in, which summarises all of the key aspects of the property – so instead of having to put electrical certificate, gas safety certificate, EPC, etc into a pack – they are all referenced in the MoT and the one document could substantially reduce the pack of documentation we normally give to a tenant whilst giving the tenant a clear and simple summary of the ‘wellness’ of the property. A basic example is included in the next 4 pictures:
Take it a stage further and a Property MoT could detail fire escape routes and options, taking the knowledge the landlord gained in creating a Fire Risk Assessment and putting it into a form that is of benefit to the new tenants.
So, if a Property MoT covers the condition of the property and summarises all of the key information for a tenant, what is a Tenancy MoT?
To explain what we would put in a Tenancy MoT, lets start by defining the problem we are trying to address. In any tenancy there are 2 main aspects which can lead to problems – the first and obvious one is the condition of the property and this is what a Property MoT is usually intended to address. If there are accepted basic standards and the Property MoT confirms these are being met – then all is good.
As always, the devil is in the detail – who defines these accepted basic standards and who polices if they are being met? This is our issue with the Labour policy – the MoT appears to be the tip of the iceberg, under which there is registration of all landlords and enforcement of standards. We will always argue that local standards are not logical – there is a lot of work needed to create them and the lack of consistency from one borough to the next confuses landlords and tenants alike. Registration schemes punish the good landlords who comply and have to spend time and money to do so, whilst the landlords who should not be in the business continue to operate under the radar.
Licensing schemes have the same issues – council staff spend huge amounts of time appearing to improve standards when in reality, all they are doing is creating costs for good landlords which are passed on to tenants. But, there is the perception that landlords (or at least some landlords) are bad and need to be managed in order to ensure safe and secure tenancies – hence the ongoing clamour for more regulation, registration, licensing and the like.
What is the alternative? Well, how about a Tenancy MoT – we give the tenant an MoT document that not only summarises the condition of the property but which also states how we will manage it – so if something breaks, how long will it take us to repair it, once the tenancy is finished, how long will it take us to release the deposit money? This is what is missing from all of the licensing schemes we have seen – they all purport to check whether a landlord is managing a property properly but in reality, they ask for copies of certificates and little else.
Extend this further and outline what we expect of the tenant and maybe, in return for this we promise not to evict or to sell the property, thus giving the tenant the security that so many crave. Then it becomes a positive solution for everyone.
If we can show that our properties are in good condition and are managed to a high standard, as we have Tenancy MoT’s in place, then we can argue that those members who participate in such a scheme no longer need to be included in local licensing or registration schemes and instead, local authorities can focus on those who do not belong to the scheme – this saves local authorities the massive overhead of ‘checking on the good guys’ which is a waste of everyones time and money and frees them up to focus on the landlords who need help to offer the sort of tenancies that we would all like to see. Do let us know your thoughts.
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