New ratings scheme for private rental properties to be launched

New ratings scheme for private rental properties to be launched

A new rating system of private rented properties is to be launched. It is, says the firm behind it, an attempt at industry self-regulation and could be used by local councils as an alternative to licensing.

The system, Rental Ratings, will work like the one to five star rating system for hotels, enabling tenants to see the better quality properties at a glance.

Each rating will last two years and be paid for by the landlord.

Independent inspectors will use different criteria including size, location, condition, outside space and  car parking, with a weighted average system used to calculate the score.

Kirsty McGregor, who has come up with the scheme, said: “It’s a game change. It will give agents and landlords a brand new marketing tool. Rentals will no longer be priced just on location and the number of bedrooms as at present.

“Poor quality properties will be highlighted – just as a ‘no star’ rating in the hotel industry speaks a thousand words.

“I also think it could help increase standards. In time, if the private rented sector gets behind this as a way of demonstrating quality properties, local authorities could direct their efforts and resources to those landlords who choose not to have their properties rated.”

Agents will be able to sell the concept to their landlord clients and either choose to make referral money or get a discount for their landlords – or a mixture of both. There is a 20% offer available to agents registering before October 11; after that, it will be 10%.

McGregor said: “The agent can decide how much they want to keep as a commission and how much discount they want to give to the customer.

“We have 20% available to those agents that sign up as premier introducers by October 11 – they have to commit to some PR and marketing to do this – and for those who get involved later, there is 10% available.

“Agents could choose to keep all of this for themselves, pass 100% on to their landlords, or share 50:50, or whatever they choose.

“All the bookings will come direct to our site and we’ll report back to the referrer each month.”

McGregor added: “When we get traction, national property portals are willing to support the scheme by showing logos and allowing tenants to refine their search choice.

“Until then, agents and landlords can use the Rental Ratings star rating in the narrative of their adverts and use the award logos on any local sites and newspapers. The more market presence we get, the more valuable it will be.

“It also gives agents a chance to do something different for landlords and tenants, and help to increase standards as well as justify rental prices in their areas.”

McGregor emphasised that the inspectors – mostly full-time surveyors or project managers, but including some building specialists – will not be allowed to pitch for any improvement work at properties. “The independence element is very important to us,” she said.

The full Rental Ratings site is due to go live from Monday, September 30, initially offering rental ratings at £25 each for the first 30 surveys booked.

The service itself is due to launch on November 1, with products costing £150 to £250 depending on the size and type of property.