A scheme being proposed in Northern Ireland has been branded as a threat to letting agents.
The Northern Ireland Executive is considering the introduction of a long-term Private Sector Leasing scheme.
This would use a lease to allow tenants longer tenancy terms, as well as directly providing or signposting tenants to support services such as benefits advice or health and wellbeing services.
The scheme has disadvantages for both landlords and letting agents according to some onlookers. In exchange for a lower income, the scheme would guarantee the rent long-term, tenancies would be offered for between three and five years, a lengthy period in which the homeowner would have no access to their property should their circumstances change.
ARLA Propertymark warns that the scheme could be detrimental to lettings agents who already offer tenancy and property management, as some landlords may favour the scheme instead, despite the reduce income. It is likely the scheme would be largely aimed at the lower portion of the market, which could see lettings agents lose up to 50 per cent of their stock.
Daryl Mcintosh, Propertymark policy manager for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales says: “The introduction of a leasing scheme such as this could generate competition for agents who are well established in their areas and have already been managing properties well. What would be more positive, would be to support the sector to improve through the introduction of legislation on property standards.
“This should be enforced through a dedicated housing court or tribunal. A leasing scheme would only look at standards of those properties entered, leaving the rest of the market with little regulation. A more robust tenancy regime will encourage investment in the sector and raise the standards across the board, whilst still allowing the flexibility that tenants and landlords need.
“Property standards in Northern Ireland can be very poor and this discussion is aimed at tackling the issue and raising those standards. It is an issue that needs to be addressed and it’s positive the Department of Communities are wanting to take action.”