As I’ve ranted and raged previously here and elsewhere, landlords, at the behest of their representative toadies on earth – letting agents, successfully demand, inter alia: references, guarantors, years of certificated accounts from freelancers, and five years of previous addresses. And what reassurance do tenants successfully request of their all-powerful overlords? None.
This must end. We need to see landlords jumping through as many flaming hoops as those demanded of renters. Evidence of permission to let from mortgage companies, proof of timely mortgage payments being made, registration and training are all increasingly necessary.
The good news is that Wales will introduce landlord licensing (you can hear the squealing from afar) with Scotland set to follow suit. Landlords need to be regulated so that tenants can have some recourse (even against the evil clowns who would undeniably do their best to avoid being licensed.)
Tenants still complain to me about receiving no guarantee of their landlord’s integrity. Meanwhile, renters submit to numerous checks, including those new-fangled ‘affordability’ tests, which make me extremely angry, as computer protocols ignore the fact that most people go without basics to pay up where are rents rocketing (low wages inflame this problem.) Meanwhile letting agents in high demand areas encourage deluded owners to hike prices until they soar ever skywards.
This reprised diatribe was prompted by the emergence of those promising new rental websites, which allow landlords and tenants to do a deal without letting agents souring relations. Letting agents are increasingly irrelevant; indeed, they are endangered. The oncoming mass extinction event of these predators will finish off stupid fees (already illegal in Scotland) and branded smart cars. No more agents speaking in place of landlords who might have been more reasonable in person.
There’s one problem with all these sites: the references and checks are all aimed at mollifying landlords. Less consideration is given to tenants, currently not empowered to demand evidence of their landlord’s credit history, employment status, whether they actually own or are entitled to rent out the property, any history of threatening and/or abusing tenants, and if they have any CCJ’s – even those with no bearing on their ability to pay the mortgage.
Change is coming. Many letting agents will go bust, but since they’ve bought it on themselves, it’s so very hard to care. Agents have no interest in encouraging long-term occupancy, as most charge fees to both landlord and tenant with every new occupation. But soon, soon, across the land, offices will close, with agents brought down by unrestrained greed, arrogance and incompetence. Why else would they charge from a menu: for references, ‘admin’, and hundreds for credit checks costing a fiver (and which are pointless anyway.)
No: the new sites are not yet perfect, currently intended to placate and attract fretful landlords instead of reassuring and protecting vulnerable tenants. Only when landlords face the same background checks and sanctions as tenants will things be equal, and those days are upon us. Remember bookshops? Remember travel agents? Insurance brokers? Letting agents will be the latest high street casualties, their once flash offices boarded-up, deserted and forlorn. Bring it on!