A PropTech company chief is backing the controversial idea of spot checks on private rental sector properties in a bid to improve quality.
North Somerset Council recently announced that it is introducing an initiative called 'Rent with Confidence' from October 1.
The council will be focusing on Weston-super-Mare town centre, where it says a cluster of rental properties exists in poor condition. In response, the council has pledged to undertake random inspections of landlords' properties in the area and to take punitive action, including fixed penalty notices.
Any landlords found to be non-compliant will automatically have their remaining properties inspected by council officers.
Now Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer of automated payment platform PayProp in the UK - which manages the payments on more than 23,000 active tenancies now - says unscheduled visits could help clean up the reputation of the rental sector.
“Random checks in this vein could prove highly effective in uncovering poor PRS practice and could vastly improve rental market standards. It’s especially effective as offending landlords or agents won't have time to try to cover up their wrongdoing" he suggests.
"If the system is successful in North Somerset, I see no reason why it couldn't be rolled out across the country. The thinking behind it ties in with many of the government's efforts to improve transparency and professionalism in the rental sector" he adds.
"It could work in unison with London’s Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker as well as its national equivalent, making sure offending agents and landlords are identified and that their wrongdoing is documented and accessible to both local authorities and consumers."
Cobbold says in addition to local authorities and the government looking to raise standards, letting agents and landlords must be proactive about embracing solutions which will help them become more transparent.
"While extremely important, government-led regulation is only one side of the coin. Letting agents and landlords need to adopt PropTech solutions which make for more accurate administration, reduce the chances of human error and simplify processes" he says.
"As well as maintaining the condition of rental homes with the help of technology, property professionals need to make sure their financial systems are water-tight and that all payments can be clearly accounted for" Cobbold concludes.