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Unlicensed agents pose real threat to rental sector

"It is critical, therefore, that the Private Rented Sector is treated with greater seriousness by the Government – the first step in this approach should be enforcement of existing requirements to protect tenants with action being taken by local authorities to ensure a landlord provides a safe home.

"Additionally, many agents offer no consumer protection by means of Client Money Protection or fail to offer consumer redress through an Ombudsman Scheme.

"Both elements, when combined with a professional training and qualification programme, will allow tenants to enter this market with confidence.

"The threat posed by unlicensed agents grows more pressing as the market expands, placing both landlords and tenants at increased risk of financial loss.

"Until that time as the Government steps in to regulate, our advice to anyone looking to rent a property would be to use an ARLA-licensed lettings agent to ensure they’re protected against unethical agents.

"It was only last week that an agent in the East Midlands was reported to have disappeared with client funds. This type of behaviour cannot and must not be tolerated."

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0 thoughts on “Unlicensed agents pose real threat to rental sector

  1. Nick Stott says:

    Surely a very easy way of weeding out the majority of ‘unlicensed’ letting agents would be for Rightmove, Zoopla etc., to simply request that ALL agents who advertise with them are a member of a professional body and/or subscribe to an approved Client Money Protection scheme?
    The risk posed is to those who are unfamiliar with the property market and its intricacies so the problem will continue to exist unless a “higher power” insists that agents are ‘licensed’.
    We cannot rely on the average consumer to know what to look for in an agent because, let’s face it, we may be experts in our own industry, but not in others. This is the same for our consumers. A new house hunter may be an Oxford graduate with Masters degrees coming out of their ears, a 7-figure salary etc., but unless they are familiar with the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of our industry, they will simply take an agent on face value. Just like any of us would for any of our consumers’ industries unless we had some sort of prior knowledge. You can’t be an expert in everything!

    A system like ‘Top Workmen’ for trade contractors simply won’t work because this relies on both the industry and the wider general public knowing about it. If however you HAVE to subscribe to something in order to be in existence, this will weed out the rogues.

    We believe now is the time for compulsory, uniformed legislation, backed up by the tools that really matter (portal advertising, deposit protection, recruitment etc.) before the property market picks up again and the fools who rush in will be left outside.

  2. I agree with Nick Scotts comment above. We can’t expect the consumer to know all about our industry. Although to a degree educating our customers is essential – there is only so much we can do!

    In this day and age it’s all about what you can get for your money and when a customer sees a cheaper letting agent offering a great deal who aren’t regulated it doesn’t seem to faze them – its mostly about the money.

    Although as Ian Potter said about the East Midland agent who took off with that money – we actually gained the majority of the portfolio they had, but it has been disastrous for the landlords as we can only do so much e.g. going out to meet the tenant, see what condition the properties are in, any outstanding issues etc. However they now realise how important it is for their letting agent (us) to be ARLA regulated. I just hope that more and more realise it and the call is loud enough to the government to put in some legislation before more things like this happen.

    Let’s face it they know it’s going to be nation of renters so let’s protect the tenants and the landlords!