Government plans to abolish Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST) and replace them with periodic lets could put landlords’ properties at risk, according to inspection specialists NoLettingGo.
The Renters’ (Reform) Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, proposes that ASTs be abolished and replaced by rolling monthly tenancies known as periodic rentals.
NoLettingGo managing director, Nick Lyons, said: “With ASTs there is a tenancy timescale in place from the start – 6, 12, 24 months – whatever it may be.
“Under that system, it was easy for landlords and agents to organise check-in, mid-term and check-out inspections.
“If all lets revert to periodic, then they will have to keep track of the tenancy duration and decide how often they might want to check on their properties to ensure tenants are taking reasonable care of them.
Damp and mould
“A periodic tenancy will end when the tenant wants to leave, unless the landlord satisfies certain criteria to evict – if the Government proposal goes through, years could pass between the beginning and end of a tenancy.
“It’s vitally important that landlords and agents maintain a strict inspection regime to ensure the properties are being properly cared for.
“If a property isn’t monitored regularly, the owner runs the risk that it will deteriorate significantly. Problems like damp and mould – which might be relatively simple to rectify if spotted early – might end up being expensive to repair if early warning signs are missed.”
Resolution of disputes
The Renters’ Reform Bill was introduced in May this year and had its Commons Second Reading in October. It has been described as the most radical reform of the Private Rented Sector (PRS) in a generation.
Perhaps its most controversial proposal is the removal of Section 21 – so-called ‘no-fault’ – evictions, although this measure has been put on hold until reform of the courts process.
The Government says it aims to deliver a fairer, more secure and higher quality PRS.
Other measures include creating a new register of landlords, a property portal to include all privately rented housing, the introduction of a Decent Homes Standard and establishing an ombudsman for the resolution of disputes between tenants and landlords.
“Never has a professional inventory and regular inspections been so important for landlords,” said Lyons.
“If there is no detailed, accurate and reliable record in place at the beginning of a tenancy, how can landlords establish any form of deterioration beyond wear and tear and therefore seek redress through one of the deposit schemes?
“Higher mortgage rates and tougher affordability criteria have made it difficult for would-be buyers to get a foot on the property ladder so they are staying longer in rented properties.
“To protect their investment, landlords should put regular inspections in place to support the detailed, professional inventory which the tenant must sign before they move in.”