Agent membership could supercharge Good Landlord Charter

A proposed voluntary scheme from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) invites landlords from the private and social sectors to commit to standards which go beyond the minimum required by law and aims to help tenants recognise and identify a good landlord. Whilst Propertymark welcomes these aims, we believe the scheme would be strengthened if agents were also considered for membership.

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Do more to involve and engage agents

Within the consultation, the suggested role of letting and managing agents is described as one of supporting landlords in meeting their commitments, and in championing the charter to their clients. We strongly disagree with this approach because, as GMCA’s research indicates, 40% of tenants in the Greater Manchester area use a letting agent to find private rented accommodation.

Letting agents are more likely to be able to demonstrate accreditation and training, provide transparency on rent allocation, and signpost information and achieve necessary standards than an individual landlord. Furthermore, it is a legal requirement for a letting agent to belong to a government-approved independent redress scheme and have Client Money Protection, standards not currently required for landlords, but which offer greater consumer protection and should be utilised by the Charter.

Letting agents play a vital role in supporting landlords to understand and comply with their legal responsibilities as well as making sure properties are safe to rent as well and helping tenants find a suitable property.

EPC efforts should be considered

Propertymark supports a minimum EPC C rating as a criterion for membership of the Charter in principle, however, we draw attention to the fact that landlords of older or heritage properties, or those in conservation areas, may be limited in the energy efficiency that can be realistically achieved. Therefore, we recommend that the Charter should not disbar landlords who have demonstrated that they have done all they can to improve the EPC of their property.

GMCA should also clarify what the scheme can offer landlords in terms of energy advice, grant funding, and interest-free loans to support them in their journey towards energy efficiency improvements.

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Inclusive renting standards could go further

The UK Government intends to use the Renters (Reform) Bill to outlaw discrimination against tenants in receipt of benefits or those with families, and we suggest the Charter should reflect these principles.

We also believe the Charter can play a role in raising awareness of grant funding opportunities such as the Disabled Facilities Grant amongst landlords and property agents. GMCA could also consider expanding funding for landlords and property agents who do not currently have a tenant who requires an adaptation but would like to future-proof their properties for future tenants.

The GMCA should also consider keeping a database of accessible property within the PRS so that elderly and disabled tenants can be signposted to appropriate housing when there is insufficient social housing stock.

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