Unlike property sale agents letting agents are not mandatory regulated and do not require any qualifications. So a letting agent that chooses to be regulated is conscious of their client’s best interests and is willing to demonstrate that they are committed to a higher level of service & protection.
You should make sure that any letting agent that you choose is regulated by one if not all of these organisations;
- The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) http://www.arla.co.uk/
- The Safeagent Scheme (Safeagent) http://www.nalscheme.co.uk/
- The Property Ombudsman (TPO) http://www.tpos.co.uk/
If an agent is genuinely a member of one of the schemes mentioned they will be listed on the schemes websites as member agents.
Benefits of regulation;
- The agent must have client money protection and provide evidence from a qualified accountant annually that their client account reconciles. This gives a landlord confidence that the agent is not stealing from them or using tenancy deposits unlawfully.
- The agent will have to abide by a professional code of conduct and work within stringent industry standards covering the key stages in all letting and property management. This means a landlords property will be managed professionally and they will receive an effective service.
- Agents offer professionalism and commitment to all its clients and customers at all times.
- Professional indemnity insurance is required by all agents so that a landlord is able to make a claim against their insurance if necessary.
- The agent will have a structured way to deal with complaints and the regulator can get involved in resolving complaints if the complainant is not satisfied. The regulator will have disciplinary procedures in place if an agent fails to abide by their code of practice.
- The agent is kept up to date with all new and changing legislation so they can better advise a landlord.
- ARLA members must have one member of staff that is fully trained to ARLA Standard.
Make sure that you use a regulated agent so that you don’t get caught out by a cowboy.
Terry Lucking is Managing Director of Belvoir Property Lettings the leading property lettings agents in Cambridge. In addition to lettings he offers comprehensive Investment Landlords Services. He can be contacted on +44 (0) 1223 352225, email firstname.lastname@example.org