Landlords, letting agents and other organisations, such as Reading University Students Union and Citizens Advice Bureau, are being invited to comment on the proposed charter which seeks to raise the standard of private rented accommodation in the town.
The charter sets out the council’s resolve to lead the way in helping to support tenants, landlords and letting and management agents to deliver a safe, healthy and thriving private rented sector in Reading.
If the charter is adopted, all parties will be invited to sign up to a set of shared values and commitments that will improve life for private rented tenants in Reading.
Private rented accommodation is a growing sector in the property market both locally and nationally and though most is of good standard, there is some that is poor quality, which can impact on people’s health and their quality of life.
Council officers have carried out an extensive study of the market and developed an action plan but the council needs the support of key organisations, such as lettings and management agents and landlords associations.
The ambitions of the charter include:
• Tenants and landlords both take full responsibility for the homes they let out and live in.
• Increase the number of landlords supplying good quality private rented homes.
• Tackle fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency in private rented housing.
• Work with tenants, landlords and agents to agree procedures to tackle disputes.
• Act against criminal landlords to protect tenants.
• Bring an end to unfair practices which contribute to a negative image of the private rented sector.
Measures in the action plan include; ensuring all letting and managing agents operating within the borough are members of a redress scheme; developing systems to deal with allegations of harassment and illegal eviction; increasing the identification and referral of sub-standard properties and developing and promoting a ‘rent with confidence’ scheme.
Councillor Richard Davies, Reading’s lead councillor for housing said
“House prices in Reading are growing at one of the fastest rates in the country so the private rented sector makes a vital and growing contribution in Reading, particularly for families.
“Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous landlords who seek to take advantage of the situation and do not provide the standards tenants have a right to expect. Their victims can often be among the more vulnerable in our community.
“The council cannot tackle this alone so we will be inviting all parties involved in the market – landlords, letting agents and organisations like Reading University - to sign up with the council to a set of shared commitments they will make to renters in Reading.
“We are now consulting on the charter to ensure that it is something everyone can sign up to and I would encourage interested parties to get involved.”
The consultation on the Private Rented Sector Housing Charter can be found at http://beta.reading.gov.uk/
The closing date is October 14th 2015.