Power to the tenants: How legislation and technology are playing their part

Power to the tenants: How legislation and technology are playing their part

As the lettings fees ban looms ahead, it is clear that however it plays out, more and more power being given to tenants, at a time when the private rented sector as a whole is changing.

Rising property prices, lifestyle changes and the availability of high quality rental properties has led to a boom in tenants. Around 5m households, or 21% of the total, are in private rented accommodation and a quarter of these are families with children. This is set to surge to 5.79m (or 24%) over the next five years, alongside 14.3 million owner occupiers and 4.3 million social tenants, according to an annual report from estate agency Knight Frank.

Traditionally tenants were in their 20s, but now the demographic is much wider, with professionals in their 30s, families and retirees choosing to rent for lifestyle reasons, or because they simply can’t afford to buy a property in their local area.

This growth in the rental market has led to intense campaigning by the likes of Shelter and Generation Rent, who are working towards improving the quality of rental accommodation provided to social and private tenants and improving their rights. New government legislation has also been introduced to protect tenants, such as such as the new green energy laws which are helping to reduce energy bills.

Rochelle Trup, Finance Director of Arthur comments: “It remains to be seen how the ban on letting agents’ fees will impact tenants and if in the long term, it is in their interests. Certainly, the safety and security of tenants is becoming a major concern for the government and local councils following the Grenfell Tower fire, which has put the plight of tenants in hi-rise flats under the microscope.

Several local councils have also introduced new licensing schemes for landlords to maintain housing and fire safety standards. Earlier this month, four Lincolnshire property investment landlords have been forced to pay £232,155, after failing to obtain the licensing required under the new selective licensing regime in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, which came into effect in July 2016.

All landlords in the area need to obtain a licence from the council, which will require investors to maintain their properties in accordance with certain conditions. The aim behind the scheme is to improve property standards in the town and keep a monitor on anti-social behaviour. The good news is that professional and reputable landlords and property investors are empowering tenants in a very positive way, through technology. Smartphone apps are being offered to tenants, so they can access gas safety certificates and call for help via an emergency button, reassuring tenants and helping to improve their safety.

Technology is allowing tenants to sign contracts and access them along with financial documents without looking through mountains of paperwork, or potentially loosing important documents. Now tenants can access information from documentation, frequently asked questions, financial information, but above all they can raise and track any issues. 

Via apps, tenants can take a photo on their phone and attach this to a message that informs the letting agent, or landlord, of any issues with the property. The tenant can then track the progress of the landlord or letting agent and see when the issue is resolved. This speeds up communications and is more efficient, giving peace of mind for the tenants.  It can also help prevent disputes, as all parties have a log of all the information relating to the issue.

While it remains to be seen if further legislation will be introduced to support tenants, it is inevitable a big game changer will be technology.  Tenant retention and tenant sanity will translate itself into a calmer management environment.”

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Scott Garnet
Scott Garnet 06 Nov 2017

If you have a patio or a porch it is important to make sure that any connecting doors are secured. Good advice for sliding glass doors is replacing the panels with storm resistant glass and getting heavier...

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richardrawlings 01 Nov 2017

What has not been mentioned here is the effect of not only higher interest payments, but also that these payments are less likely to be offsettable as a business cost due to the scaling back of mortgage...

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Kelvin Lloyd
Kelvin Lloyd 09 Oct 2017

IT is up, to the Planners. If they will only give permission for bungalows on certain (suitable) sites, they will be built.

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maggie swift
maggie swift 09 Oct 2017

It's just the beginning of the shocking rise.

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maggie swift
maggie swift 09 Oct 2017

I have recently read that the bungalows can provide social housing for elderly residents in London.

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zoe glover
zoe glover 05 Oct 2017

Update! Worst company I have ever dealt with. Undervalued a Cambridge property by over 100k, wont take on any evidence of valuation including a RICS valuation done 3 years ago for the very same value...

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Paul Edwards
Paul Edwards 27 Sep 2017

Its nonsense articles such as this that make it harder to get clients to realise just how difficult the market is out there. When you see Rightmove and there are more 'price reduced' then 'new' most days...

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Tom Allen
Tom Allen 20 Sep 2017

Absolutely agree with you!

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RyanGeo 18 Sep 2017

A sharp correction would be a less dramatic expression to use. That is already underway in certain sectors in Reading where I practice as Chartered Surveyor

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sean benton
sean benton 01 Sep 2017

Identity theft is a thread for any profession. So,people should stay alarmed. I once take help from a letting agent and came to know that letting agents are taking every precaution to prevent fraudulent...

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Mark N.
Mark N. 30 Aug 2017

We have seen a surge in instructions over August and that should continue into September too.

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Chris 30 Aug 2017

Unfortunately, all the legislation bears its force on Landlords and ignores, naively, the effect of Rogue Tenants on the ability of landlords to keep houses in repair and offer properties for rent at reasonable...

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