One of my biggest bug bears when starting in the property business was the total lack of respect and recognition given to tenants, from agents, landlords and oftentimes from society. It is a cause that I have been championing ever since. The percentage of people moving into rental properties is increasing. These include people making a lifestyle choice for ? exibility, those forced into it through inability to get a mortgage and those having to sell their homes through economic dif?culties. It seems like a simple choice. Pick a home, put down a deposit and move on when you feel like it. What’s not to like?
The problem is that ?exibility has two sides, the other side being insecurity. The private rental sector (PRS) is by design a temporary system. The massive majority of tenancies are for 12 months at most, so whilst the tenant has the ? exibility to move on as they wish, their master the landlord has precisely the same powers. This is all very well for young singles about town, but not quite so good for families with schooling who are trying to build a life in a community.
From my job, I know that the supply of decent affordable rental property is dire and that there is huge demand for every decent property. It doesn’t take much to extrapolate that when demand outstrips supply, landlords do not need to rent their properties cheaply, (why would/should they?) they do not need to ? x the damp and maintain their properties or frankly give a damn about their tenant’s wellbeing. Many do but an increasing number out there do not. When there are forty-? ve people after your rental property it is easy to regard tenants as the most disposable part of the equation. Easy to choose to do the bare minimum in way of upgrades when you know the property can be ? lled in a jiffy. This will only get worse.
Close your eyes and put yourself in the shoes of a tenant for a
moment. You are lying in bed and you hear your front door open. You assume you are being burgled. You make your way slowly downstairs brandishing an umbrella (well you don’t have much in the way of burglar deterrents in your bedroom), only to ? nd it’s the letting agent who swears they “called ahead” to tell you about the visit. Now while this example is extreme, and certainly not how we run our lettings department, there are several agents who readily fall into this category. This highlights for me what is wrong with the current system of renting. As a tenant, rather than a homeowner your home is never your castle. It should be. Technically you are purchasing a rental property under a lease and should enjoy the same level of comfort and security to bring up your family. But you don’t. What you get is three or six monthly inspections where someone from the agency pokes their nose around your house, letting themselves in, even if you are not there. Rubbing your nose in the fact that it is not your home.
With the emergence of buy-to-let over the past decade tenants are now also increasingly at the mercy of amateur and reluctant landlords struggling to pay the increasing mortgage with no pennies left to mend the boiler or maintain the property properly. With mortgage rates only rising, repossessions will increase. It is time to stop treating tenants like second class citizens. Homeownership is going to fall even more in the future, more people will need to bring up their families, try to put down roots and live their whole lives in rented accommodation.
For the homeowners reading, how would you feel if your mortgage company insisted on inspecting your cleanliness every three months? Having them tell you that you can’t paint your new daughter’s bedroom pink. That you can’t hang pictures and need to live in a magnolia womb for the duration. You may not have a cat without paying an extortionate extra fee and that you are on permanent one months’ notice to quit. Horrid thought, isn’t it? With so many low income AND so called middle class families having to rent for the long term, why should the massive rents tenants pay be so completely different to a mortgage? We need to stop regarding renting as stop gap accommodation. We need to be looking at making renting a decent long term option by encouraging long term investors, not ?y by night amateurs at the mercy of interest rates and repossession. The government should be coming up with ways of encouraging institutional investors to provide long term rentals, where people can build lives and the investors get a secure long term return and tenants who will treat their property like their own home. We should be pushing for ? ve year plus tenancies to become mainstream. In fact, something rather like ‘council houses’. Remember them?
We also need to frown upon the inherent attitude of many in the estate agency industry – that tenants are a magic porridge pot of money but deserve no respect because the landlord is their king.
Here at Mayfair and Morgan we treat our tenants (potential, past and current) with the same respect and courtesy as we treat our landlords. The landlords that we have on our client list are reliable and customer centric, always wanting to provide the best environment to nurture their tenants in. Their properties are not just a commodity that earns them money, they truly believe that long term tenancies with a steady income stream, strongly outweighs the hassle of replacing tenants like a conveyor belt. As agents, we do not unnecessarily interfere with the tenant’s ability to enjoy their home, and work expeditiously to ensure that any necessary repairs are completed in the fastest time possible. So, if you are out there thinking about renting, or becoming a landlord, do it with Mayfair and Morgan… we are head and shoulders above the crowd.
A man’s rented home should also be his castle but let’s start with some respect.