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How Could It Be Otherwise?

Tuesday August 16, 2022

A friend of mine translates German tourism websites into English. The task goes beyond simple translation. A German may say “The view of the mountain is excellent”. We Brits are more nuanced and may say “The mountain, in the sunset is sublime”.

Translating the website of a camping site in the Black Mountains, my friend wrote “The shower block and toilets are spotless”. The client came back with “But how could it be otherwise?” The Germans simply could not understand how such a basic given should need to be mentioned.

I was reminded of my friend when reading through the Rental Reform White Paper. “How could it be otherwise?”

The main points in the paper should already be adopted by all reputable letting agents. Sadly, a minority of agents and landlords do not agree, hence the need for much overdue legislation. “Section 21 ‘No Fault’ evictions are to be abolished”. Fine by us since we have never attended court using this route for eviction.

“Apply the Decent Homes Standard to the private rental sector”. If a landlords business model is predicted on letting sub-standard property, I suggest they are in the wrong business.

“Introduce a new Property Portal to help landlords understand their obligations”. This is a fair one. Letting agents have systems and qualified staffs to do this. Smaller landlords do not and easy access to help them understand legislation should be warmly received.

“Introduce a housing Ombudsman covering all private rental sector landlords and providing redress for tenants”. Long overdue and most welcome.

The media was quick to find landlords railing against over regulation and threatening to sell their properties leading to a shortage of rental accommodation. Nonsense. Many of these landlords jumped on the Buy-to-Let bandwagon in the days when Margaret Thatcher stalked the earth. Most have done very nicely out of their investment.

But the world has moved on. The days when a landlord might regard his portfolio as a cash cow and tenants as mild irritants who could be removed with a ‘Section 21’ notice if they dared complain are behind us.

Along with lettings practice, the terminology has changed. “Landlord” and “Tenant” conjures up a Lord and a supplicant. “Owner” and “Occupant” puts the relationship on a more even keel and implies partnership rather than hierarchical structure.

Partnership is key to a better, long-term relationship. The property owner seeks a reasonable return on their investment. The occupant seeks secure tenure in a nice home. So, while I welcome legislation to protect occupants’ rights, I cannot help but feel, if everyone in the private rental sector had just applied a little common sense, we would not need the legislation. Happy owners and happy occupiers should not need the law to reach agreement.

On that note, Heaton Property has just registered our first customer to use every one of our services. She first came to us as a tenant through our Pro-Share Plus scheme. Then bought a property in Pandongate House where we are block managers. When work forced a move, our lettings and property management service was utilised. Now, having bought her ‘forever’ home she is selling the property through our sales division. Happy customers make for return business. How could it be otherwise?

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