Landlords warned about rogue letting agents

As the boom in the letting sector shows no sign of easing property investors with an interest in landlord insurance are being urged to choose carefully when it comes to selecting a letting agent.

With still no sign of an official national regulation body in sight, the Property Ombudsman is reporting an ever growing number of complaints surrounding private letting arrangements. It is a fact that more and more estate agents are moving over to the lettings sector as house sales crumble, and that the growth of the sector has attracted an undesirable element into the business looking to make a “quick buck”, which makes it imperative that landlords new to the business ensure they are dealing with a reputable company.

Selina Egan, a lettings manager of Connells Estate Agents in Leamington is well aware that anyone can set themselves up as a letting agent without any knowledge of the business and without any obligation to sign up to a scheme that will offer customers with complaints a source of redress. She therefore advises newcomers to the sector to look for alternative safeguards. Using the company she works for as an example she said: “Many people entering the rental market for the first time may be unaware that, if their lettings agent is not a member of an officially recognised body such as ARLA, they are immune from any form of disciplinary action for misconduct. Connells is a longstanding voluntary member of ARLA which means we must agree to abide by a strict code of conduct, as well as offering client money protection and redress schemes, which are rigorously enforced. Obviously, as responsible lettings agents, we hope we won’t ever find ourselves in dispute with our landlords or tenants. However, if the worst should happen, being a member of ARLA means we can assure that things get resolved quickly and fairly.”

Of course many landlords will feel that the buoyancy in the market will allow them to conduct their own management, which of course will save them money, but for those who don’t have the time or inclination to handle their own affairs it is important they comprehensively research the background of any agency they propose to employ.

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