Is a landlord feedback system for tenants realistic?
According to a survey carried out by Consumer Focus, 90 per cent of respondents thought a customer feedback system similar to the one found on portals such as eBay would be useful.
The report also discovered only 15 per cent of people were able to find out the information they wanted to on prospective landlords, while 25 per cent of renters have had cause to complain in the past two years.
Claire McAnulty, policy expert at the group, said: "Currently the landlord is firmly in the driving seat despite rent being a massive outgoing for many of us."
She added people often have to go with their "gut feeling" when weighing up whether or not to move into a property.
As things stand, it is tough for potential tenants to find out much information about landlords before they sign an agreement.
If feedback was stored and made available, then individuals may be in a position to make a much more informed decision on the matter.
But, as Dean Woodman-Evans who directs proceedings at The Landlord Association highlights, this is not as simple as it may sound.
"The suggestion to have a feedback system on landlords is not practical. In much the same way as there is no real way to report bad tenants. Tenants failing to pay their rents past are checked through tenant check services. The credit ratings of tenants are often the deciding factor for landlords.
"But to have a similar system in place for landlords doesn't make any practical sense. The main reason for this is that landlords aren't penalised over any financial owings. Not in the same way tenants are with rent. And, the vast majority of disputes are ambiguous. I spoke with a tenant last week who suggested a member of our association (a landlord of course) didn't respond to his needs for boiler repair at 1:15AM. Similarly, we have landlords complaining that they cannot access a property to perform a gas safety check despite weeks of attempted communication. The problem is there are so many disputes which although guided by law can often boil down to personal feeling.
"There could be a solution however. A more realistic one. It would likely have to involve a single management company which governs the tenancy from the start. Like a letting agent only more responsible to the let and with power to rule using the laws and regulations in place. The biggest problem this would solve is tenants failing to pay rent and moving on without trace. If all lets were managed by such a firm the tenant would have no choice but to adhere to their agreement. Indeed the landlord would be guided and monitored too.
One last thought though. 25% of renters may have had cause to complain in the past 2 years but more than 35% of landlords have experienced tenants not paying rent. A far bigger issue which seems to be the major issue with tenant-landlord relationships."