Monthly Archives: October 2012

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By Steve Roulstone

“The problem is they just do not realise that there are decent honest Landlords and Agents out there!” So said a fellow Letting Agent who just happened to be in my office this morning, when speaking about the Citizens Advice Bureau and the problems she had found in dealing with them. So it seems a regular problem is happening for other Agents, which does nothing to resolve the issue, but does make you realise that CAB are not perhaps the all knowing all seeing force that they convey, when demanding changes in the way we run our Industry.

Regular item.

In fact, it was only last week that I referred to their campaign to remove all Tenants fees, and support for a new five year agreement, but how can they be taken seriously as a champion of the Tenant when (taking our evidence from two conversations with them this morning) it is clear they do not even understand how, for example, the Tenants Deposit Scheme works!

Phone calls.

What happened this morning was an initial call from a Lady at the CAB asking why we were not returning a Tenants deposit (The Tenant having been at the house for many years) What she was not aware of was that the Deposit was not being refunded because of cigarette burns, yellowing paintwork caused by smoking, general untidiness and cleaning requirements. This in a house where the Tenant had been warned about the consequences when we carried out our Property visits of smoking inside.

Not aware.

The problem lay with the Lady not being aware of how the DPS (Our preferred Deposit organisation) works. So we had to advise them of what would happen and how the claim would go to adjudication as both parties could not agree. The Tenant stance was one of ‘but I have always paid my rent’ which of course was not acceptable.

Problem compounded!

Lo and behold, not an hour later, a second person from the CAB phoned and asked for the Tenants DPS reference number. Now for those who do not know, DPS will only give the Tenants reference number to the Tenant, but we would expect CAB to be aware of this at least, as it is such a basic rule of the system. Instead, we had to explain again how the system worked and be spoken to as if we were being obstructive in how we were dealing with the matter. This is unacceptable and speaks volumes about the manner in which CAB view Landlords and Agents.

Who knew!

The fact is, as a professional Agency, we pride ourselves on carrying out our affairs to the letter of the Law. The fact seems to be that our Tenant, who we had of course already the procedure explained to him, could not find anybody with the knowledge at the CAB to advice him well at all. The phone calls of course ended up, providing they were relayed correctly, with the same advice we had already passed on, but while I am of course aware that the CAB do a very good job in advising the public, it seems they need some training on what is now a basic staple of Tenant law, because what should have happened when the Tenant reported his situation in the first place to the CAB was an answer of, ‘Yes, that’s right!’


As a matter of course, we review every situation where we are in communication with organisations who act for others, whether it is another Agent, Solicitor or organisations such as the CAB. In doing so in this case we were satisfied we did our job correctly. The only question was one of language and translation, but as I have stated, the Tenant was long standing and we had held many conversation with him over the years and we are left in do doubt that the problem was not one of miscomprehension, rather a Tenant who did not get what he wanted, feeling he could get help from others. It is a pity we were spoken to by the CAB in such a poor way when what we did was correct and I just hope that in relaying the conversation our Tenant was advised that we are correct in our dealings on his behalf!

By Steve Roulstone

I posted a Blog a couple of weeks ago about what encourages a Tenant to stay longer in property and the answer both backed by the facts about the length of time our Tenants stay and what the Castle Estates group confirm, is the need for them to have confidence in their position. This involves allowing them to have control of their agreement by NOT being tied down to a new agreement every year.


It is worth repeating quickly what this means. Tenant’s who are asked to sign a new agreement every year, are by doing so actually being asked a simple question – Do I want to be tied down for another year? In effect, they have their flexibility taken away from them. Instead what we believe in is allowing the contract to role on month by month (Periodic) and handing the control (when they wish to give notice) over to the Tenant. The actual reality is that Tenants stay longer when they do not feel pressured.

Shelter proposal.

Shelter feel that the market needs a five year agreement and I agree with William Jordan of Jordans Rentals (in his piece in Property Drum) that Shelter are approaching the issue from the wrong point. I do not know many Tenants who would agree to sign a five year agreement; in fact I would never recommend advertising a property as available on a five year agreement as it would greatly reduce the interest. What Shelter has missed is that it is not security people wish for, it is flexibility!

Moving on.

It is because Tenants want to be able to move when it suits them, not the opposite and as for Landlords giving Tenants notice to sell the house etc, well it is my experience that this happens very infrequently. Rather, it is when a Tenant gives notice in by far the majority of cases that a Landlord may make a decision to remove the property from the market. Also, it cannot be forgotten that we act for Landlords as their agent and this is a legal fact that cannot be ignored. But if a Tenant wanted a five year agreement and the Landlord was happy, this can already be arranged by using agreements available now, so why change?


But there is another area which I alluded to in my original post which also needs to be addressed and this is where Shelter has a point. Too many Agents use the new agreement stance as an income stream by charging the Tenant for every new agreement signed. This has three real time implications. Firstly, they are taking advantage of the Tenant and reducing their upfront Landlord fees. OK for Landlords, but, Secondly, this gives credence to the Campaign waged by both Shelter and CAB to remove all Tenant fees (as, may I remind everybody, is already the case in Scotland) and long term will not do Landlords any favours, just to take short term advantage of Tenants.

Landlords pay costs.

Thirdly, by allowing Tenants to stay under a periodic agreement resulting in Tenants staying longer in the house, in reality, if (and when) a Tenant leaves because of being asked to sign a contract extension, it is the Landlord who is put at risk in having an empty property between Tenancies and losing out on rent, even if this is only for two weeks between Tenants!


These are the reasons I put to why Shelter are approaching the matter from the wrong end, systems develop and patterns emerge because of the way the market takes them – market forces at work. That some see an opportunity to take advantage is, in my humble opinion, what needs to be dealt with here. Agents can be accommodating and property is available already long term and we are of course asked the question at times, but in reality, flexibility is the answer, not longer agreements.

There is more to follow on this subject and I will be adding to and commenting on what is currently a very live debate very soon!

By Steve Roulstone

It is very rarely that I print a headline designed to make people stop, but this is one. Following a criminal case into a death arising from Carbon Monoxide poisoning, a new test has been added to the Gas safety Certificate for Tenants concerning the inspection of joints in the flu where they pass through voids with no access. Simply put, it a joint cannot be accessed, it will fail. The consequences are a request to cut off the Gas supply and all the problems of a Landlord failing to provide space and water heating until the problem is corrected.

Immediate action.

This is a situation that needs immediate action, because it soon becomes clear that where problems occur, especially if property is in a block of leasehold flats for example. Therefore, all of our staff, and especially staff who carry out our three monthly visits, will be educated to understand where problems exist and highlight them as soon as possible.

Extent of problem.

What needs to be realised here, is not just which boiler flues may cause concern, but also the length of time that will be needed to correct the problem. As Letting Agents, we are well aware of how problems do occur during a Gas Safety Inspection, but 99 times out of 100 the work is completed on the day, or at the very worst the following day. That inspection hatches may need to be fitted points out just how long the work could take, before a system can be given the green light.

Spotted early.

This is why we are looking now and not waiting for the problem to occur. It is what we need to do as an Agent and where a potential problem exists we will supply the Tenant with a carbon Monoxide detector as soon as we are aware. We are also Block Managing Agents and being aware of where the responsibility lies, we will be advising all of our Leaseholders to review the situation and check for themselves. Finally, we will write to all of our Landlords and make them aware of the changes and implications.

Best advice.                 

There will be much more detail in the fall out over the introduction of these important and wide reaching changes. We are aware of one Landlord who owns a block of flats, who has had to fit inspection hatches in the living room of eight properties to comply. But more than anything else is the importance of ensuring a Tenant does not lose supply and heating for any length of time. One thing for sure is that a Tenant’s permission would need to be sought to allow the gas supply to be turned off, and without permission the Landlord is left in no man’s land with a system which cannot be licensed. Nobody would want this scenario to result in anybody’s death, but it is not a scenario I am going to allow to develop and this is why we are addressing it now.


The Leasehold property owner faces an even worse scenario, as it may be the shared element of their building that hides the flue and then permission will need to be sought before any works can be carried out! This is another scenario that could take several weeks to be resolved and another reason why we are surveying our blocks for problems now, rather than wait for the problem to occur. We will do everything we can through being pro-active to ensure another tragedy does not occur under our Management.


As a property owner, I am able to look at the action from both angles and as owners I can only recommend you do the same, or at least ask your property professional what they are doing on your behalf. One thing is sure, if nothing is done and your property comes under those that will fail, a whole new set of problems will occur and at that stage they may not be under your control!

By Craig Smith

A little while ago, Steve from our office blogged about some of the issues he was having with a certain utility company, namelyUtility Warehouse. Well it seems they are still trying to overcharge for energy used in rental properties!

Incorrect MeterReadings

The usual process for our office when a tenant moves in or out of a home is to inform the relevant companies, in writing, of the correct readings and forwarding address. The property in question was no different where after a brief empty period, new tenants moved in and the emails sent off to the utility companies. We would normally expect to get any final bills within a few weeks, arrange for the payment to be made and everything can be forgotten about until next time.

Well, the bill came through with estimated readings! This basically means that the energy supplier hasn’t taken any notice whatsoever of the readings we have taken and made up their own readings. Surprise, surprise! They are usually always over-estimated and this case was no different, which meant that we need to send the correct readings over… again!

Lack of Contact

This all happened in August (2 months ago) and since then we have had no contact fromUtility Warehouseregarding this account. Until today. A letter arrives through our door from a debt collection agency chasing the outstanding amount of just over £20! (Now, you might think that arguing over such a small amount is silly but you should only pay for the energy you have used!)

Needless to say that due to the lack of contact and the usually less than helpful nature of some of the debt chasing staff, we have made contact & told them what we think of the service!

Not the Only One!

It may sound like I am singling out a single supplier here but the truth is that this seems to arise with numerous companies and some are worse than others. Which begs the question, how many people (not people, not just Landlords!) are out there that have been scared by these tactics and ended up paying more than they should have done?

Deemed Rates

Another big money-earner is the type of tariff the account is put onto. When you are living in a property it is easier to research cheaper rates for your energy bills but something that a lot of Landlords forget when a property is empty. This is particularly important if a property is left unoccupied for a longer period of time. We have had instances in the past where no energy has been used at all but standing charges still apply.

The Solution

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any way of making dealing with some of these companies any easier and sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and get on with it. By always informing any changes in writing, it gives a good backup should accounts not be updated as they should be. For now, we shall carry on…

By Steve Roulstone

It seems some people just do not trust anybody when it comes to access to their homes and of course we both respect and understand that. Advising Tenants before we enter a property for whatever reason should always be done with permission and we fully endorse this golden rule. But sometimes we need access to enable us to do our job at differing times and when it comes to the end of the Tenancy it seems we run up against a brick wall more times than any other during a Tenancy.

Problems and mistakes.

Like any busy office, with property visits, viewings and maintenance issues to address on a daily basis, mistakes do sometimes occur.  This means a review of why and apologies to the person concerned, especially as it can sometimes be a misunderstanding. Other times, with Tenants who do not speak English well, we have to abort if we feel our requirements have not been fully understood if nobody is present when we call, or sometimes we can be wrong and only after a visit we thought was understood, find out it was not and again apologise. One thing for sure, we never enter a property without belief that we have received permission!

Access denied!

However, what we do find difficult is when Tenants that are approaching the end of their Tenancy deny us access at all times! There can be several reasons, problems during the Tenancy, having been given notice when they did not wish to leave, or of course just plain mistrust. It has to be said, no matter how hard you try, it is impossible to develop good relationships with every Tenant. The whole scenario surrounding the renting of property throws up a myriad of problems, some of which create problems Tenants do not appreciate no matter that we are doing our job. Relationships therefore can be strained.

Job requirements.

Of course at the end of one Tenancy we need to re-let the property for the next, which means viewings. There is also the need to review properties and look at any works required between tenants. Of course it is perfectly acceptable for property to be improved between Tenants which is sensibly the most practical time for improvements to be carried out. To be denied access for both is effectively stopping us from doing our job, and is exactly the reason why specific arrangements are included within the Tenancy agreement to ensure arrangements are clearly set out for all to understand.

Time limit.

Of course we must try to resolve all issues quickly and with agreement. We have been asked to wait two weeks before viewings start and will comply, because at least we have access for the last two weeks instead of none at all, but when we are denied all together, we then have (usually) an irate Landlord who wants to know why we cannot progress his property and along with that, we usually get the question who is going to pay for the two weeks lost rent? A good question which the law does not allow us to answer!


The conclusion therefore is to try to get along with our Tenants which we do try to do as a matter of course. But not just to gain co-operation, but because all things end better if they start with a smile! (Must try to remember that one!) But it is important that Tenants understand just how important it is for us to do our job once notice has been served, remembering that we will arrange visits and viewings to coincide with when somebody is present at the property and always respect their position by giving a clear 48 hrs notice, so to the vast majority who understand – Thankyou!



By Steve Roulstone

Today’s topic is completely away from the Lettings Industry, but never the less, something that I want to warn everybody about and at the same time ensure the message that what Google is doing is both , in my opinion, out of order and something that they should change their complaints procedure to make allowance for.

Hotmail account failure.

Yesterday, for some strange reason, I was unable to open my Hotmail account and access e-mails, which I use as a support service to my business e-mail and therefore use every day. My reaction was to look for a support number to see what the problem was, because this was most unusual and others with Hotmail addresses were also having problems and I did wonder if we had some kind of virus that had been passed on through e-mails to our system.

Google ads.

Now, with this fear in mind, what I wanted to do was find a number that I could call quickly and talk to someone to find out what was happening. The fear of a virus was uppermost in my mind, so when I Googled ‘Hotmail support’ and phoned the first number I found. That was where my real problems started. What I failed to notice was the web address was not Hotmail, it read Hotmail support itechacharya Now I have not written this as a link on purpose, because the last thing anybody should do is visit their site.

The phone call.

As the one who normally tells everybody in the office to be careful, I should have checked, rather, I phoned the number and was taken in by the manner in which they dealt with me, which included phoning in to the computer to search for the problem. Not an unusual method of operation nowadays and still raising no worries as they advised me that my e-mail account had been hacked and they could in thirty minutes restore the account and clear the problem.

Tech guy!

Now as a Company we all have Tech guys and as I left them to solve the problem on a call, I phoned mine because something did not add up about what was happening with all stations in the office. When I got through, we quickly realised that I had been scammed, this company was not real and as we were speaking they were actually in my Computer. Luckily, it was my laptop rather than desk top and was not connected to the office system!


As soon as I and my Tech Guy arrived back at the office, we cut the link and looked at what they had done. There objective through the software they loaded on my Laptop was to have independent access at any time they wanted and having researched them, they look to make small amounts of money by creating problems they ‘charge for fixing’, when in reality they create the problem when hacking in to my computer. Their usual target seems to be around £200.00. Thankfully having caught them early, we were able to change passwords that had been compromised and remove the software they had loaded. (‘Combofix’ is excellent for this purpose!)

Reviewing the situation.

A timely reminder what to do, and what not to do, and thankfully nothing lost, except for two hours invoice from my Technical support, which I will pay with pleasure! But here is the rub! Google, in accepting money for advertising from this organisation (Based in India, which again is not unusual nowadays) actively promote a scamming organisation. Now I do not expect them to know all dodgy companies that actively advertise on their site, but with the amount of information you will readily find when you research this crew, you would think there was an easy way for people who have been targeted like I have been, to report the issue and get them blacklisted!

Microsoft and Google.

In Hotmail and Google we have two of the most powerful internet Companies in the world, one is actively supporting a Company who is ripping off the customers of the other and we as customers are powerless to speak with either organisation to stop it! So, all we can do and the reason why I have taken the time to write a Blog about it, is pass the word on, so consider it passed, remember, never give access unless you know for sure and you have taken the time to confirm you are speaking to authorised people. I will now preach to myself, as much as others in future!  


By Craig Smith

With some of us here at Castle Estates being Landlords ourselves, we understand how important it can be to keep any downtime of a rental property to a minimum. When a property becomes untenanted, the mortgage still needs to be paid along with insurance and, more so during the winter months, heating bills increase.

Breaks Between Tenancies

When marketing a property that is still occupied one of the biggest hurdles can be that the incoming tenant wants to move very quickly. We have instances such as this on a regular basis but sometimes have to be firm about the move in dates.

It is not as simple as one person moving out and another moving in the next day as there may be cleaning or decorating work that needs to be completed in between. By booking someone to move in the very next day or even within a few days later can cause the new tenancy to start on the wrong foot which then has a knock-on effect for the rest of the tenancy.

Best Presentation Always Important!

Some tenants are happy for works to be completed after they have moved in, usually small things such as a repair to a leaky tap. The biggest issues can be checking somebody in to a property that is unclean or needs the gardening tidying up as this can be used ‘as ammunition’ when something goes wrong further down the line.

We always recommend to our Landlords that their property is presented cleanly and, if applicable, gardens left tidy. This helps to stop any arguments at the end of the tenancy which can get very messy (no pun intended!) when trying to agree any deposit costs.

Extra Time to Ensure Safety

We had a tenant moving forward with a property a few weeks ago who needed to move quickly. This was fine but the property wasn’t quite ready and the move in ended up being delayed in order for the outstanding issues to be resolved. Luckily it wasn’t anything too major and the delay was only a few days but any more than this and the tenancy may have fallen through before it even began!

There are some examples where tenants don’t understand the reasoning behind delays, particularly when it could be a matter or breaking the law. If a property hasn’t had its annual gas safety check, for example, there is no way we could sign the tenancy agreements as without the pass on the certificate, we would be unable to do so. The reason is that the law states the gas safety certificate must be in place and to ensure the safety of any occupants. Not only would this be against the law, I also think it is morally wrong to place a tenant in potential danger.

Stuck in a Chain

The other common example that crops up regularly is when an outgoing tenant is purchasing a house and they are stuck in a chain. If a new tenant is already lined up to move in there is still nothing we can do to ask the current occupiers to leave as, even if they have given their correct notice, it can still be extended!

Best Advice

Going back to the start of this post, we understand how Landlords need to have the minimum amount of empty periods possible. Sometimes, a little extra time between moving out & in can prevent a lot of hassle later on!

By Steve Roulstone

I guess everybody wondered what the effect of the new style Student fees would have and reports have abounded supporting both sides of the fence. What cannot be denied are hard facts and in Stafford there is no doubt that Students have looked differently for their accommodation needs and because of the reduction in numbers, several Landlords have found themselves with no takers for their Student accommodation.

Change of use.

Of course at this time of year it is clear if nobody has come forward yet, then they are hardly likely too for the academic year that has just started and I have had three difficult conversations with Landlords about what options they have in their properties at present. Of course change to family let has been the recommendation on each occasion, but strangely this problem has not occurred in what we have found this year.

No vacancies!

We manage a large purpose built block in Stafford with 68 rooms spread between 14 flats. Our numbers are slightly down on last year, but have held up far better when compared to what seems to be happening in the traditional Houses of Multiple Occupation. Why? Well the cost is less and a Warden is present as well as private room and en-suite facilities. Add its location next door to the main Stafford College and perhaps we have the answers. But because our occupation is still high this is why I suggest they have looked at the market differently.

Market forces.

No doubt there has been a reduction in numbers, because most Student Landlords would manage the property themselves, so if we have seen three empty houses, the Town probably has two dozen! This would represent a marked drop in the overall Student accommodation requirement. But I am also convinced that quality is starting to play a hand as well and it is Market Forces that is driving demand as students search harder for value for money.

Still need for change.

Of course, none of this assists the Landlords of houses that are still empty now, especially if they are looking to move back to Students next year! Some requirements for the general market just do not sit with a more traditional ‘Family’ let. (Not to mention furniture which is hardly ever the best and rarely matching?) Locks on bedroom doors, fire blankets, Card Meters! All of these are better removed and of course rarely can that be done without affecting appearances. But worst of all, that dreaded style of decoration, woodchip wallpaper!

Back to market forces.

I was present in a property yesterday which was very well presented, but had to be honest with Landlords who were already going to see quite a drop in monthly income, from three students to a Family in a 1st floor flat, my advice had to be based on the property they were competing with! Small properties with three types of carpet that can all be seen from most of the rooms will not be well received when judged against the common fashion of using the same carpet throughout. It is comparing against other property that has to be the benchmark.


The bottom line is in most cases lots of improvements need to be made and cost is always going to be an issue, but to then change back again is going to be a double whammy as for example, hardly anybody has storage room for furniture and would therefore have to buy new. Ironically it could be that very change that might attract Students in a market being driven by services and quality as I believe it now is. Either way, tired or poor accommodation will continue to struggle and the next two years could be a very hard challenge as more Students drop off after three years and the intake continues to fall!

By Steve Roulstone

We just as other Letting Agents must also be finding, have Landlords who are wishing to keep costs down to a minimum in these difficult times when we are all finding pressure on our margins. However, there are some areas that just do not justify cutting corners and the Inventory is one such area.

Deposit disputes in Landlords favour.

There have now been many cases of claims against Tenant deposits that have been successful, purely because of both a well written inventory and sufficient photographic evidence to back up our claim. The Tenants Deposit dispute system itself, after just one year in operation, warned Landlords that the biggest reason they were losing claims was because of an insufficient inventory.


Explained in the simplest terms, if you wish to claim against a Tenant for painting a wall black during a Tenancy without permission, if you cannot confirm that it was not black at the beginning of the Tenancy, you will lose. Similarly, if you wish to claim decoration allowed was done badly, you would also lose unless you could prove that the decoration at the start of a Tenancy was in good order. We have posted before about the importance and it is explained well in this Blog by Craig Smith

Photographic proof.

Of course photos play a massive part in this, as a house correctly recorded can easily be shown in its original condition, but that does not mean a well written version should not accompany photographs. If a written inventory confirms no stains on a carpet and there are no specific photographs close enough to confirm general level of dirt, this as well as photos confirming the current state and condition should (and have) proven to be sufficient. But of course, if you have both, then no problem should exist.

Cookers and sinks.

Cookers and sinks are the two items that cause most issues, and with experience, we know to ensure they are well photographed at the start and the end of Tenancy. (Only just in front of Gardens where the same rules apply) We have had occasions where even faced with the before and after photographs, Tenants have insisted on allowing the arbitration service to decide, but whilst this is their right and nowadays more common, we have always achieved the correct result on behalf of our Landlords.

Do not cut corners.

All of this explains why we encourage Landlords to have our Inventory as part of their Tenant check in. Of course Fully Managed properties always receive this service, so my comments are better aimed at Landlords who have either always, or in an attempt to cut costs have now decided to manage their property themselves. In the long run this will pay for itself.

Always at the house.

 It is also one of the main reasons why when checking tenants in to their new home, it should always happen at the house itself. Too many times lately we hear of Tenant’s being checked in at the Agents office. I would ask the question how an inventory can be relied upon if you do not go through it with the Tenant at the property.  If at the end of the Tenancy your Tenant objects to charges, it would be very easy for them to state the inventory was never checked in their presence. A risk I would not wish to take on behalf of my Landlords!

By Steve Roulstone

A report from Shelter (as reported on the BBC news pages today) states that complaints about Landlords have risen by 27% over the last three years. As always there are statistics and statistics and the ones quoted in this report are a little ambiguous, but let’s take them at face value and assume they mean exactly what they say and assume we are measuring one year against another and that the 27% figure applies from 2008/09 to 2011/12.

More houses bigger numbers.

So let’s look at what has happened at face value, because some of this increase is purely down to trends. For a start, there are some 5% more houses in the private rental sector than there were four years ago and of course nowadays, people do choose the easy route and register a complaint with the authorities prior to actually reporting the issue to the Landlord. This must apply to at least 10% of the figure quoted.

No excuse.

But do not get me wrong, as a Letting Agent I am not making excuses for these figures, far from it, just wanting to put a little bit more reality to the situation. At our office for example, we have only ever had two instances of problems being reported to the Council and on both occasions we were not spoken to first. Problems can occur without the Landlord or Agents knowledge and unless we are informed we are powerless. In the two instances we have been involved with a Council inspection, only one resulted in work being needed and that is work that would have been completed should we have been made aware first!

Flooding in!

In the report for instance specific mention is made of damp houses. This year this is not a surprise as I can verify as a Tenant. Many Landlords will have found damp patches and rising water (In a cellar in my instance) without prior expectation or knowledge, as the water table has risen dramatically this summer and started from a high point (as it did in Staffordshire) this spring.


But none of this does remove the fact that more action is required and this is what concerns me about the report. Shelter ask for more positive action to be taken by Councils at the same time confirming a rise in the number of successful prosecutions or orders for improvements. But if Shelter feel this is not sufficient, then it is clear the system is not working and something else needs to be done.

Further breakdown.

Firstly, I would like to know exactly what the breakdown is between privately run property in the hands of Landlords and fully Managed property in the hands of Agents. As I have confirmed, two houses reported in twelve years with nearly 400 houses under our Management would suggest, if other Agencies operate with both the correct knowledge and standards, that the majority would be privately managed. So firstly let’s have a better breakdown of the figures and more information as to which areas Shelter feel better action needs to be taken.

Now for the old chestnut.

Because when figures are broken down and if Councils are unable to follow up and prosecute sufficient cases then clearly a new system is required and yes, for me that is qualified Agents who pass a Government designed test (with the co-operation and involvement of the Industry professional bodies if possible) and all Landlords must be registered and approved themselves, and if not then approved and registered Agents must look after their properties.

Standards improving.

There is no doubt that the quality of housing in the Private rental sector IS improving and best advice to all Landlords which should always be our objective when marketing a property, is to consider the competition. To Landlords who are not prepared to present and protect property and therefore their Tenants correctly, we must always point out what needs to be done and why using the same principle! If the advice is not taken, then we cannot manage the property. Surely, professional standards to the same level would be the solution bodies such as Shelter wish for?

Drum banging time.

Legislation is overdue because of confirmation in reports like this that the current system does not work. Councils are too thin on the ground and cannot police and control the current system. If all Agents and Landlords had to meet qualifications laid down or not be able to rent property out, the system would be self policing – surely this is the way forward.