Assessing the image problems of buy-to-let

You would need to have your head pretty well buried in the sand not to be aware of the fairly constant criticism that comes the way of buy to let landlords. Recently you may have read this article in the Guardian, this in the FT or heard the discussion on Radio 4 about the problems of ‘rent to rent’. A fair overall analysis might be that a destructive minority of bad landlords are tarnishing the reputation of the sector as a whole. But it’s not quite as simple as “good and bad” and before steps can be taken to repair BTL’s image a fuller understanding of the problems must be reached.

One of the problems highlighted by the Radio 4 show was how well-meaning landlords can accidentally perpetuate bad practice by signing up to rent to rent. Attracted by promises of good returns and reduced stress, landlords are tricked into thinking they are letting ethically before discovering that their ‘renter’ has fobbed off both them and the sub-tenants. This kind of activity points to a more general problem, namely the difficulty first-time or accidental landlords have in accessing clear and helpful advice on letting. Not only does this lead to these very dodgy instances of rent-to-rent but it means landlords may break the law or fall into bad practice without realising it.

Rentify have long believed that transparency is a problem in the sector and this applies to the availability of information to landlords. And this is especially relevant now given the recent figures showing that first-time landlords are on the increase. Certainly effort is required from landlords, but all good landlords are keen to make that effort. The Government needs to wake up to this problem rather than worrying about how increased regulation might help. The problem is simpler than they think: do more to punish rogue landlords and more to help well meaning landlords. Rentify have a range of guides aimed at addressing this but more needs to be done to saturate the entire market with clear information and codes of conduct.

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