Most private landlords would oppose the idea of arbitrary checks of their rental properties by local authorities, but that has not stopped PayProp supporting the contentious proposal.
North Somerset Council recently announced that it is introducing an initiative called ‘Rent with Confidence’ from October 1, involving random rental property spot checks, and PayProp, an automated payment and reconciliation platform specific to the letting industry, believes that this will help to improve transparency and standards in the wider private rented sector.
The council will be focusing on Weston-super-Mare town centre, where it says a cluster of rental properties exist in poor condition.
In response, the council has pledged to undertake random inspections of landlords’ properties in the area and to take punitive action, including fixed penalty notices.
The automated rental payment provider suggests that a system like this could be equally effective across the county and is in step with government efforts to improve standards in the PRS.
Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer of PayProp in the UK, said: “Random checks in this vein could prove highly effective in uncovering poor PRS practice and could vastly improve rental market standards.
“It’s especially effective as offending landlords or agents won’t have time to try and cover up their wrongdoing.”
He added: “If the system is successful in North Somerset, I see no reason why it couldn't be rolled out across the country.
“The thinking behind it ties in with many of the government's efforts to improve transparency and professionalism in the rental sector.”
Cobbold believes that spot checks could effectively work in unison with London’s Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker as well as its national equivalent, making sure offending agents and landlords are identified and that their wrongdoing is documented and accessible to both local authorities and consumers.
Cobbold also believes that government-led regulation is only one side of the coin and that landlords and letting agents should also be more proactive about embracing solutions which will help them become more transparent.
He continued: “Letting agents and landlords need to adopt PropTech solutions which make for more accurate administration, reduce the chances of human error and simplify processes.
“As well as maintaining the condition of rental homes with the help of technology, property professionals need to make sure their financial systems are water-tight and that all payments can be clearly accounted for.”