Capital Letters works with councils in London to improve standards in the private rented sector. That works for landlords too, says Sue Coulson.

Is your property healthy and safe for tenants? Most landlords can honestly answer yes to that question.

We work on behalf of two-thirds of the councils in London to find homes for low-income families. Councils need good, safe properties so these families can settle into their new homes. If a family moves into a property that is unsafe or unsuitable, they can soon end up back on the council’s housing list, which is also bad for landlords.

Our housing negotiators reject properties when landlords are unwilling or unable to carry out necessary safety improvements, such as fitting fire doors or window restrictors. But most landlords quickly sort out any issues highlighted by our inspections.

Anhar Ali, one of our newer landlords from Tower Hamlets, found the inspection was useful. “You have to keep tenants safe and make sure you are within the law,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot from Capital Letters about how to make sure my property is up to standard.”

Quality standards in the private rented sector have steadily improved over the last decade. The proportion of properties in England failing to meet the government’s decent homes standard has halved since 2010.

But there are still too many non-decent homes out there! The reputation of the private rented sector is undermined by properties that no one would live in if they had a choice. Sadly, people on the edge of homelessness do not.

As demand for affordable housing continues to rise, councils know that a partnership with the private rented sector is an essential part of their housing strategy. But they also want to ensure properties are safe and push up the quality of private rented properties in their area by requiring minimum room sizes, fire and other safety measures and natural light.

To support that goal, our housing negotiators are trained in the requirements of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) when they inspect properties, which helps landlords comply with the 2004 Housing Act.

Everyone agrees that HHSRS could be simpler. Following a consultation with landlords in 2019, the government is now reviewing the guidance.

Gordon Hinchcliffe of Foundations UK is a long-time HHSRS expert who trained our negotiator team. He explains the government designed HHSRS so councils can take enforcement action against landlords who do not provide properties of a good enough standard and potentially put the health and safety of their tenants at risk

Most landlords we work with are relieved to have one of our negotiators deal with the detail of HHSRS for them. We see inspections as an opportunity to help landlords meet their legal obligations so they can confidently offer their tenants a safe and suitable property.

Why not book a free inspection with one our trained negotiators and we will connect you to families across London looking for a secure and settled home?

Sue Coulson is chief executive of Capital Letters. Find out more about our tenant finder service, with landlord incentive payments and tenancy support at www.CapitalLetters.org.uk/landlords

1 COMMENT

  1. Good sentiment-sadly it feels like many local licensing schemes are more about revenue raising than improving standards. We have been registered with one Council for over 2 years without even a visit to the property!

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