Nobody wants an empty property and the fear of a void will often prompt the landlord to instruct multiple agents to find tenants in the shortest time possible. The landlord will often go with the letting agent who is first in finding tenants, and I am often surprised that when instructing agents, landlords do not take into consideration whether or not the agents are properly licensed and qualified professionals.
Following years of reports in the newspapers about ‘ripped off’ landlords who have fallen foul of rogue lettings agents, the government has finally taken action to regulate what has been, until last year, a largely unregulated industry.
From October 1st 2014 letting agents must belong to one of the three government-approved redress schemes all of which set out the ‘fair and transparent’ services a good lettings agent should offer and enable landlords to seek redress should their agent’s service fall short of the expected quality. The three schemes are:
- The Property Ombudsman
- Ombudsman Services Property
- The Property Redress Scheme
All letting agents and property management companies must now be registered with one of these three schemes and, if they are not, are committing a criminal offence and face a substantial fixed penalty issued by their local authority.
Each of the redress schemes requires letting agents to comply with a strict code of practice and maintain minimum standards. These are designed to prevent many of the unscrupulous practices that have made the headlines. These include hidden fees to tenants; not passing on rents to landlords; incorrectly conducting evictions and poor property management.
An ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents)Licensed Agent however goes further, because their company will have Professional Indemnity Insurance, a Client Money Protection Scheme and belong to one of the government-approved redress schemes for complete peace of mind.
Chamak Digwa, ARLA Licensed Agent
Green City Lettings