New Local Authority Property Portals
A new property portal is currently being promoted by a number of local authorities with the support and backing of the Scottish Government. At first sight and to the uninitiated the portal looks fine, it is free to use and requires landlords listing their properties on the site to confirm that they are a registered landlord, hold an EPC certificate, etc.
Here however is where I have a problem with the portals. The technology is provided by a private company called Localpad who are allowed to gather landlord and tenant contact details via the site in order to promote various goods and services. So, the public sector has taken full advantage of legislative powers, tax-payer funding and unique access to public sector records in a bid to compete in the highly competitive property portal sector and bring the private rented sector under the increased influence and control of local authorities. Rather than support the business community in their area, local authorities have instead decided to apply their competitive advantage to operate what is essentially an indirect trading business. I respect that some may regard this as appropriate use of public sector resources, however others (like me) will not. Details of the terms agreed with Localpad and exactly how much the local authority in question directly benefits by way of reduced (or free) services is unknown, however I am very happy to be further enlightened.
The new portal for the Edinburgh area (easthubhomechoice.co.uk) is unlikely to fly for all sorts of reasons (see my previous blog of 29th Jan). This is not however the purpose of my argument here and only makes the Scottish Government's decision to fund and progress this project even greater folly.
At a time when the Scottish Government is keen to be seen to occupy the moral high ground as far as the private rented sector is concerned I would say - badly done. To landlords and agents I would simply say - don't use the portal.
MD - 1LET
Picture courtesy of Thesaurus Technology