Council bid to set standards for landlord conduct

Cammy Day wants to see better relations between private tenants and their landlords. Picture: Kenny Smith
Cammy Day wants to see better relations between private tenants and their landlords. Picture: Kenny Smith
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A CHARTER that sets minimum standards for private landlords is being developed in the Capital, in what would be a Scottish first.

The local authority wants more landlords in charge of private rentals to maintain their properties to the same levels as council tenancies.

Those pushing the concept view it as a way of raising confidence amongst tenants that private lettings across Edinburgh will meet a high standard and will be well managed.

Overgrown gardens, broken appliances and persistent 
ceiling leaks were cited as examples of bad property management.

Councillor Cammy Day, the city’s housing vice-convener, said he wanted a scheme introduced that would foster a better relationship between private tenants and their landlords. He said he hoped to have the charter in place by 2014.

Those who signed up to the document would be named on a public website, creating a list of preferred landlords.

Signing up to the charter would remain voluntary. It is believed no other Scottish local authority has introduced such a scheme dictating minimum standards for private lets.

Cllr Day denied the charter would be widely ignored by landlords. He said: “Landlords should be offering someone a tenancy that provides a decent standard of living and if not they shouldn’t be landlords.”

Stakeholders have been lukewarm in their response to the proposal, with several organisations claiming the charter would make little difference.

Edinburgh Private Tenants Action Group [EPTAG] treasurer Jenny MacKenzie said the scheme that had been presented was only restating existing legislation.

She said: “We had a meeting and it was agreed amongst those around the table that perhaps we could do better. What EPTAG would be looking for is as much respect and interest in the rights of tenants as in the rights of landlords.”

Ms MacKenzie said only making the charter a voluntary scheme did not go far enough, adding: “We would really want everyone registered, and diligent enforcement of the current legislation. Even that now would make a huge difference.”

John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords, welcomed the concept of a forum, but questioned the purpose of a charter for private rentals.

He said: “We do not see what another charter would bring to the marketplace and we question why private landlords would want to sign up.

“We would welcome any 
initiative that encourages good practice and good relations between tenants, landlords and local communities. That’s important to us.

“However, we would have concerns about a charter existing in addition to other best practice models that are already out there. We have landlord accreditation, which is an excellent model for both landlords and letting agents and we would rather Edinburgh City Council be supporting these national charters than creating what sometimes can be watered-down versions of good practice that’s already out there.”

City leaders are expected to agree to a forum at tomorrow’s health, wellbeing and housing committee meeting that would tackle the merits of a charter.