Arthur Online takes a look at GetRentr: the NLA approved platform for automating landlords’ compliance with the changing licensing schemes in the UK.
An increasing number of councils are launching licensing schemes in order to improve standards in the private rented sector. GetRentr has a simple mission – “to support landlords in their compliance with the changing regulations and, to expose rogue landlords so that no tenant has to live in unsafe, substandard accommodation again”.
Arthur Online spoke with Orla Shields, CEO & Co-Founder at GetRentr, about the changing licensing framework and how GetRentr is allowing landlords keep abreast of these changes and stay compliant:
How is the property licensing framework changing in the UK?
During 2018, a new property licensing scheme is introduced, on average, every 8 days in the UK. Housing is an acute political issue, and the constant flow of press and studies highlighting the falling rate of home ownership and increasing prevalence of renting, especially later in life, means that government is under pressure to ensure that rental standards are raised.
The primary lever that councils are using to fulfil this is property licensing: requiring landlords to meet certain conditions in order to be able to legally rent out certain properties. While Mandatory property licensing covers the length and breadth of the country, councils have discretion to implement supplementary Additional and Selective schemes to further regulate property standards within their boroughs. Schemes covering more than the threshold of 20% of a council district, must go to central government for approval which has proven difficult for councils to attain. Therefore, many councils are intentionally limiting coverage to 19% of their borough, resulting in a ‘swiss cheese’ map where even one side of a street might fall under a different property licensing regime to the other.
How will the changes affect landlords?
The increasing diversity, complexity and fluctuating nature of property licensing in the UK is putting a huge administrative burden on landlords. Remaining compliant is a sisyphean task for landlords and agents as new consultations or schemes can come into effect at any time meaning compliance today does not guarantee compliance tomorrow. In addition to the fact that manual monitoring is an almost impossible task, the punishments for breaching regulations are becoming more frequent and more punitive. Along with the political incentive to improve rental conditions, cash strapped councils can hand out fines of up to £30k per offence creating a financial incentive to enforce. Over the last year, across only the 10 London boroughs that have published data, nearly £1.5m in fines were levied on landlords for property licensing breaches. In addition to the easily quantifiable monetary losses, agents can suffer severe reputational damage, for example, Sadiq Khan’s ‘rogue landlord’ database names and shames those who break the law in London. GetRentr envisages the level of fines and public interest only increasing over the next few years.
How does GetRentr work?
GetRentr uses AI data aggregation techniques to scan every council portal across the UK on a daily basis to monitor changes to property licensing regulations. Every consultation, amendment, expiry or implementation is automatically tracked and added to GetRentr’s database, creating a live property licensing dataset mapped out across the entire country. All a client needs to do, is plug their portfolio details in and sit back, safe in the knowledge that GetRentr will cross reference every one of their properties with regulation changes every day, automatically notifying the user of anything that impacts their portfolio.
How can landlords stay compliant?
Property licensing is complex, fluctuating and only likely to become increasingly diverse in the near future. The job of keeping on top of this under an increasingly vigorous enforcement environment is not what agents and landlords want to spend their time on. Landlords can of course continue to spend resources manually checking council websites while hoping they do not get caught out by sudden changes in regulation. Alternatively they can use GetRentr’s unique service to ensure that their entire portfolio is automatically monitored for compliance everywhere, everyday. GetRentr leverages technology to de-risk agents and landlords, analysing live data to notify clients of any changes to regulation that impact their portfolios across the entire UK. GetRentr allows clients to rest easy in the knowledge that they’ll be instantly notified of any changes affecting their properties.
In addition, as Agent fees are eroded, including the law change banning fees to tenants, GetRentr can create new revenue streams by offering a chargeable application service, under an agent’s branding, to obtain licenses for non-compliant properties on behalf of landlords. GetRentr uses data and technology to put agents and landlords back in control of their portfolios.