“Letting logbooks” trial for buy to let properties

Property logbooks for rental and buy-to-let properties are being trialed in partnership with Birmingham City Council and the Connected Places Catapult as part of a ‘wider programme of innovation in the West Midlands.’

Logbooks which include a Lettings Pack have been launched to help with the collation of data associated with rental property when purchasing Buy-To-Let (BTL) properties and portfolios. Licensing for Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) and the introduction of ‘Selective Licencing’ schemes in some local authorities has increased the compliance obligations on landlords which in turn has ramifications on the information required for the conveyancing process when BTL properties are sold, says Nigel Walley, founder and CEO of property logbook company Chimni, and Chair of the self regulatory body the Residential Logbook Association (RLBA).

“There was a sense that the conveyancers were buying the properties for these landlords, then sending them off into an increasingly complex regulatory environment. This had to be an area where conveyancers could deepen their relationship with landlords, and that logbooks could offer a platform to help that.”

According to the RLBA website, a property logbook is

“an online or digital service which captures all useful and relevant information about a home in a secure and standardized way. Its a digital version of that box of documents in the attic or that kitchen drawer full of paper and gives the homeowner control and peace of mind. A well maintained Property Logbook should be a record of major events during a building’s lifetime, such as change of ownership, maintenance, refurbishment and other changes to the fabric of your home. The Logbook should ensure the homeowner has copies of significant documentation and certification relating to these events, and include links to where information is held on those events on public and/or government repositories.”

The specification for the Lettings Pack was developed by the Residential Logbook Association (RLBA) with help from the Lettings Industry Council (TLIC) and includes tools to help Landlords identify compliance requirements in different council areas and assemble required data and documentation. The Pack also includes a digitised and interactive version of the new PropertyMark Lettings & Rental PIQ, which auto-completes from Logbook records. Chimni say they are working with data supplied by licencing specialist Kamma to build the compliance functionality in the new Logbooks.

“The intention is to provide data and documentation via API into existing Lettings and Tenant management software systems. This is about creating better prepared clients who use logbooks to manage their assets, not competing with agency systems.”

adds Walley. While at this stage it is not anticipated that logbooks will become mandated for lettings, it will be possible for local authorities to use a reporting tool, currently being trialled as part of work done on the First Homes Logbooks initiative launched with DLUHC earlier in the year, to identify rental properties outside of selective licencing areas whose certification and documentation is non-compliant and issue pre-enforcement notices.

“We are not expecting Local Authorities to mandate Logbooks for private landlords – yet. A broader question behind the test is ‘In which circumstances might a council mandate, or at least recommend, the use of digital property logbooks.”

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