Let­tings in­dus­try needs li­cens­ing sys­tem for pro­tec­tion of all

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Luke Gid­ney

IT is an un­for­tu­nate part of the let­ting agency world that you are of­ten viewed with mis­trust. Some­times would-be clients look at you war­ily, try­ing to size you up and de­cide if you are as straight a busi­ness­man as you say you are.

There’s the land­lord who wants to know if you’re gen­uine enough to be trusted to man­age his prop­er­ties and han­dle thou­sands of pounds in rents that will be due to him but paid to you. And there are the ten­ants, who want to be sure you’re telling the truth when you prom­ise to main­tain the prop­erty that they pay you rent for ev­ery month.

Hav­ing worked in var­i­ous as­pects of prop­erty sales and rentals over the years, it is a sad in­dict­ment of the let­ting in­dus­try that such sus­pi­cion ex­ists.

House builders, es­tate agents, sur­vey­ors, re­moval men….none of these sec­tors of the prop­erty world are treated with such doubt. And un­for­tu­nately, the rea­sons for such doubt are clear. Most of the afore­men­tioned pro­fes­sion­als are signed up to some pro­fes­sional or­gan­i­sa­tion and code of con­duct. Even the lowli­est re­moval man needs a driv­ing li­cence.

Yet just about any­one can set up as a let­ting agent. Got a nice line in pat­ter? A web­site? A small of­fice? Great. Any crim­i­nal con­vic­tions? Poor credit rat­ing? Not a prob­lem. No one’s go­ing to know that un­til you ei­ther flee with ten­ants’ and land­lords’ cash or sim­ply lose it through in­com­pe­tence when your agency goes bust.

It’s a sit­u­a­tion that al­lows far too much po­ten­tial for op­er­a­tors to abuse the trust put in them. My ex­pe­ri­ence alone of so-called let­ting agent is enough to make any land­lord or ten­ant shud­der. But at present, there is no way to stop any­one set­ting them­selves up as a let­ting agent. That can­not be right. This in­dus­try has to be­come li­censed.

We are all hu­man. Mis­un­der­stand­ings do hap­pen and ev­ery let­ting agent will, at some time, have to deal with a ten­ant or land­lord who is not happy with some as­pect of the agent’s work. That is in­evitable. I’m by no means set­ting my­self up as a knight in shin­ing ar­mour here. In fact, my calls for a li­cens­ing sys­tem are far from un­selfish. Af­ter all, if a li­cens­ing sys­tem came into op­er­a­tion and cleaned up this in­dus­try it would make my life – and that of many other gen­uine, hon­est let­ting agents – so much eas­ier. So now you know my mo­ti­va­tion, let me out­line my wish list:

A code of prac­tice that all let­ting agents sign up to, en­forced by a gov­ern­ing body such as ARLA (As­so­ci­a­tion of Res­i­den­tial Let­ting Agents).

In­dus­try-wide agreed terms and con­di­tions for con­tracts be­tween let­ting agents and land­lords and ten­ants.

Each let­ting agent to cre­ate bank ac­counts specif­i­cally for their clients’ rev­enues – with each ac­count au­dited and signed off ev­ery six months by a bona fide ac­coun­tant and sub­mit­ted to an in­dus­try-wide gov­ern­ing body.

Li­cences is­sued to only those let­ting agents that meet the above con­di­tions who pass crim­i­nal record and credit rat­ing checks.

Is this too much to ask? In a world where we reg­u­larly hear the claim that busi­ness is be­ing stran­gled by red tape, surely our in­dus­try is one of those that need more rather than fewer safe­guards.

At Let-Leeds, we reg­u­larly have ten­ants and land­lords come to us hav­ing been the vic­tims of peo­ple who have taken thou­sands of pounds in rents and de­posits and then dis­ap­peared or gone into liq­ui­da­tion, leav­ing ev­ery­one they have dealt with out of pocket. That then means that such land­lords have to pay back de­posits to ten­ants, de­posits that they never held as they went to the now-ab­sent let­ting agent.

Ten­ants are left in fear of los­ing the roof over their heads as the rents they paid in good faith to a let­ting agent never made it to the land­lord. No let­ting agent can ever claim to be per­fect. But the good ones do de­serve a li­cens­ing sys­tem.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.