Ditch licensing and introduce Property Passports, says lettings chief

The concept of a so-called rental property passport would rapidly improve the quality of accommodation and landlords, and would be far fairer than the slew of licensing schemes now in force.

That’s the view of Theresa Wallace, head of lettings customer relations at Savills and current chair of The Lettings Industry Council.

The passport would work like this:

– it would emulate the DVLA model which handles the records of 48m drivers and 40m vehicles, but would be on a much smaller scale for the 6m or so private rented properties;

– each rental property would have a unique reference number (which already exists with HM Land Registry, though is seldom called into use by the industry);

– any property without such a unique number would not be ‘official’, so could perhaps have been illegally converted;

– every advertisement for a lettings property to rent must include its unique reference number;

– every advertisement would also include the equivalent of a ‘property MOT’ certificate to ensure it had passed appropriate tests.

Wallace, speaking at The Property Ombudsman conference, said Hunters had already successfully trialled this scheme, and that the Lettings Industry Council had sourced a not-for-profit supplier who may be able to operate a PropTech portal on which the properties could be viewed by the public and Trading Standards.

“We do believe there is a place for larger HMO licensing schemes, but there has to be a better solution to additional and selective licensing” Wallace told delegates – and she believed that the property MOT and passport scheme was it.

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