A council is launching a form on online letting agency which wants to push agents and landlords into agreeing two year tenancies for private tenants, with no rent increases during a 12 month period.
The authority in question is Reading, which is shortly launching a Reading Rent With Confidence website, which will list individual rooms or whole properties from what it calls “verified landlords.”
These landlords and properties will apparently come with assurances that they meet the council’s criteria for high quality homes with good management - and that includes longer tenancies.
The council says it is encouraging all private sector landlords with properties in its patch to apply to join; in return, if the properties pass an inspection, they will be advertised online and have (in the council’s words) “a competitive advantage when letting the property.”
The council continues: “For an annual subscription per property of £158.94 including VAT, teaming up with the council will enable landlords to update details of their properties and enhance trust with tenants. They are also able to access the council’s ‘click before you evict’ service, launched to offer support and advice to landlords to ensure all avenues are explored to help struggling tenants and to see eviction as a last resort that can hopefully be avoided.”
The council says members of the public using the Reading Rent With Confidence site will have the reassurance that they are dealing with certified landlords, “screened to eradicate the worries of poor practice.”
The criteria for landlord certification includes requirements such as:
- Properties being in very good decorative repair and modernised;
- A maximum deposit up to a maximum of five weeks;
- Regular recorded property inspections;
- Target response times for emergencies and other requests;
- Written and recorded inventory for check-in and check-out;
- Gas/ Electrical certificates provided to tenants (and Local Authority on request);
- No rental increases within fixed term tenancies (12 months or less);
- Providing adequate storage for refuse and recycling & share relevant waste and recycling information with all tenants.;
- Providing, where possible, long term tenancies (e.g. two-year tenancies).
Councillor Ellie Emberson, Reading council’s lead member for housing, says: “This is a really great initiative to assist tenants in choosing a home with an accredited landlord who has met the high standards we expect for all Reading renters.
“Our aim is ultimately to ensure residents who rent across the borough can indeed do so with confidence, safe in the knowledge that Reading Borough Council is behind them”.