The Government’s tenants’ charter is a step in the right direction

We are proud to say that Rentify was set up as an antidote to the widespread lack of transparency in the private rented sector, and it’s great to see the Government taking steps to solve this problem too. Measures announced by Eric Pickles this week aim to put a stop to letting agents’ hidden fees by making clear that compulsory redress schemes can investigate complaints about unfair charges. While some may have wanted the Government go further in the clampdown, the measures do at least show a willingness to act. By increasing awareness amongst landlords and tenants, both are being encouraged and empowered to stand up to rogue agents and unfair fees.

The tenants’ charter also aims to increase transparency between landlords and tenants through an industry standard tenancy agreement to act as a benchmark and standard information telling tenants what to expect. Rentify welcome this as a way to make sure both parties know their rights and responsibilities. Indeed that is the very aim of the Rentify guides! This should reduce conflicts in the long-term.

Speaking of the long-term, another central aim of the measures is to encourage longer fixed-term, family-friendly tenancies. As we have seen an increase in the popularity and necessity of such tenancies here at Rentify, we also endorse this move (you may have seen our comments in The Independent). Parents have enough to worry about without wondering whether their children will be at the same school next year. Furthermore, such tenancies provide landlords with a stable rental income. Security is important and tenancies lasting for at least 3 years should be much more widely available. Unfortunately, it is still unclear how this will work alongside the widespread restrictions found in mortgage agreements, often limiting landlords to offering one year tenancies. Mr. Pickles has spoken of ‘encouraging’ lenders towards allowing longer terms but surely more must be done.

To end on a note of caution: while the option of longer term tenancies is beneficial, it must be remembered that they are not always necessary or desirable. If landlords get forced into offering unfavourable long-term tenancy agreements it will damage a sector which is so important to this country. The government must remember that flexibility is vital.

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