Posts with tag: agents

Council with Most Prosecutions of Agents and Landlords is Named

Published On: August 24, 2018 at 8:58 am

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Categories: Law News

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Camden has been revealed as the local authority with the highest number of prosecutions of agents and landlords in London.

According to the Mayor of London’s rogue landlord and agent checker, launched last December to assist Londoners in securing affordable homes with the knowledge that their agent or landlord has not committed previous offences, Camden has prosecuted on 59 occasions and put 35 names on the blacklist.

Southwark Council has brought 51 prosecutions and placed 14 names on the blacklist. In third place is Newham with 44 prosecutions, and 27 names on the blacklist.

Camden Council’s prosecutions include one of a property management firm which was accommodating 26 people in over-crowded conditions above a former pub. The case resulted in a £40,000 fine.

Camden claimed that as a result of its prosecutions, more agents were coming forward to get HMO licences and seek advice.

Tenants also received compensation after seeking rent repayment orders for living in unlicensed HMOs, with £9,000 reclaimed in the last six months.

Dissimilar to the national ‘blacklist’ of agents and landlords, the Mayor of London’s database is completely accessible to the public. The national blacklist, launched in April, can only be viewed by local and central Government.

Notable prosecutions by Camden Council in the last year include:

  • Over £42,000 in fines and costs secured from the managers of an unlicensed house in multiple occupation which had come to the council’s notice after tenants complained of a rat infestation, rotting windows and the need to use saucepans to catch water dripping through the bathroom floor
  • A £40,000 fine for a property management company who were found to be accommodating 26 people in overcrowded conditions above the former Grand Union Pub on Camden Road.
  • Clamping down on a landlord who illegally sub-divided rooms in the listed building which was the birthplace of Benjamin Disraeli.

Tenants are also receiving compensation after seeking rent repayment orders for living in unlicensed HMO’s, with £9,000 reclaimed by tenants in the last 6 months and more on the way.

 

 

 

How many Agents will be Trading Illegally as Ombudsman Services Withdraws from Market?

Published On: August 7, 2018 at 8:00 am

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Categories: Lettings News

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Due to the withdrawal of the Ombudsman Services from the sector, the option for redress will no longer be available for consumers – a mandatory requirement for agents wishing to remain in business.

Agents, in addition to RICS members, had been informed that they must register with another authorised scheme, either The Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme.

A list of agents who might not have registered elsewhere is due to be delivered to the regulator, National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team, (NTSEAT) by Ombudsman Services.

However, on August 5th, Ombudsman Services: Property continued listing what appeared to be a large number of agents.

This could potentially be due to some agents failing to move to a new redress scheme, or have, but the Ombudsman Services website had not been updated. However, this is not clear.

It was previously reported that 450 agents were still due to move.

According to the Ombudsman Services: Property, any company still signed up for it would be required to switch.

Ombudsman at the Ombudsman Services, Nicolette Granite commented: “Today marks the culmination of a six-month managed withdrawal process, an integral component which has been informing property and housing companies registered with OS of our decision to withdrawal from the sector.

“We have contacted participating companies on numerous occasions as part of a comprehensive communications and awareness campaign. We’re pleased to report that, as a result, many have taken the important step of signing up with a different scheme in what has been a smooth transition.

“It’s possible that a small number of companies may have missed the deadline. If your company falls into this category, our advice would be to register as soon as possible with either The Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme.”

She added: “During the past six months we have worked closely with stakeholders including the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team. This collaboration will continue after today.

“Consumers can be assured that, if their complaint falls within our terms of reference and was accepted by us on or before August 6th, it will be investigated through to resolution.”

 

Agents are failing to substantially vet tenants, survey claims

Published On: September 14, 2017 at 8:39 am

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Categories: Property News

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A new report has accused letting agents of failing to carry out substantial financial checks on would-be tenants.

Tenant referencing and insurance operator Landlord Secure suggests that only 22% of prospective renters were required to give proof of sufficient funds in accounts linked to their rent. This was based on results of a survey of 1,000 tenants and 1,000 UK landlords.

Evidence

Only 35% were asked to provide evidence that they had an active bank account, with 52% being asked to provide a form of identification.

Landlord Secure claims that just 29% of prospective tenants were asked to confirm that they were in employment during the application process. Just one-quarter were asked to give a reference from a previous landlord in order to give proof of their rental payments.

Agents are failing to substantially vet tenants, survey claims

Agents are failing to substantially vet tenants, survey claims

A spokesman for the firm noted: ‘There is a misconception among landlords who rely on letting agents to carry out checks on tenants that the information they are getting gives an accurate and up-to-date reflection of a new tenant’s financial background.’

‘The reality, however, is that agents rely far too heavily on information that is publicly available, like if an applicant has been subject to a county court judgement or been declared bankrupt. But this will not provide an accurate picture of an applicant’s current financial situation and more robust credit checks need to be made to give landlords the data they need to make informed decisions.’[1]

[1] https://www.lettingagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2017/9/agents-fail-to-conduct-sufficient-financial-checks-on-tenants–claim

 

 

Sales up but prices down, according to Rightmove

Published On: June 19, 2017 at 9:54 am

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Categories: Property News

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The most recent report from Rightmove indicates that the number of sales agreed by agents over the last month rose by 7%, in comparison to the same period in 2016.

This is the greatest level recorded for this time of year since 2007, apart from one other higher figure seen in 2014.

Despite this, the average asking price of properties being listed on the portal has fallen by 0.4% during the last month.

Falls

This was the first monthly decline in prices recorded at this time of year since 2009 and the first monthly fall in 2017.

Yearly asking price growth is now at 1.8% – the slowest rate recorded since April 2013. As such, Rightmove predicts that the average asking price of properties coming onto the market is £316,109.

In terms of sales times, May saw properties take 59 days on average, down from 60 in April and 79 in January.

The average stock per agent is 60 properties, up from the 57 recorded in April.

Sales up but prices down, according to Rightmove

Sales up but prices down, according to Rightmove

Instability

Director of Rightmove, Miles Shipside, noted that a recent lack of stability has contributed towards sliding asking prices.

Shipside said: ‘The price of property coming to the market had increased in June in every year since 2009, so buyer confidence has clearly been affected by inflation outstripping their pay packets and current political events.’[1]

‘The high levels of sales being agreed show that the underlying fundamentals are largely unchanged with high first-time buyer demand which drives movement higher up the ladder, all aided by the cheap cost of borrowing,’ he continued.[1]

According to Shipside, markets in different local markets and sectors are reacting differently to the air of uncertainty. For example, a typical first-time buyer property consisting of two-bedrooms or less, represents the fastest growing property type, with newly-listed prices rising by 3.5% monthly and by 5.5% annually.

‘Those at the traditional starter level are brushing aside uncertainty, with demand being fuelled by the ongoing desire for home-ownership, government assistance, and mortgage repayments often being cheaper than rent for a similar property. In contrast, sectors higher up the ladder with a larger proportion of discretionary movers have seen the greatest recent price wobbles,’ Shipside concluded.[1]

[1] https://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2017/6/sales-agreed-up-but-asking-prices-down–rightmove

 

ZPG announces hike in listings and agents

Published On: May 24, 2017 at 11:54 am

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Categories: Property News

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ZPG has today published its half-year figures, which reveal a 6% increase in the number of agents and 9% rise in the total listings on its Zoopla and Primelocation portals.

This has resulted in a 22% hike in revenue for the group. 750 estate agent breaches have been to the portals in the last two years, with ZPG moving to invest in a new business that will provide an alternative to tenants’ deposits.

Rising Revenue

During the six months to the end of March 2017, revenue increased to £117.9m, with ZPG recording record traffic. Over 314m visits to the company’s websites and apps were seen in the period – 68% of these using mobile devices.

This 6% rise in agents took the total to 14,271 branches, with inventory now up over 928,000 listings.

What’s more, average revenue per partner has increased by 5%, driven by a healthy demand for portal and software products.

ZPG announces hike in listings and agents

ZPG announces hike in listings and agents

Records

Alex Chesterman, founder and chief executive of ZPG, noted: ‘Our audience grew by five per cent with a record 314 million visits to our websites and apps and we achieved record levels of brand awareness for both Zoopla and uSwitch.’[1]

‘We also made good progress on our continued product differentiation with the launch of an innovative new Move Planner tool which provides a one-stop shop for all moving related services and are pleased to announce today a strategic investment in Zero Deposit, a new business seeking to transform the lettings market by providing an alternative to tenant deposits,’ he continued.[1]

‘We remain incredibly excited by the underlying growth across each of the business divisions, our recent acquisitions and the significant cross-sell opportunities to our highly engaged consumer audience and our unrivalled partner base,’ he concluded.[1]

[1] https://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2017/5/zoopla-reports-big-surge-in-agents-and-listings-in-past-six-months

TPO offers new guidance for agents entering properties

Published On: November 3, 2016 at 10:21 am

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Categories: Property News

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The Property Ombudsman has moved to provide new guidance concerning gaining tenants’ consent before accessing a property.

This alteration comes as a direct result of queries from agents regarding changes made to paragraph 8f of TPO Lettings Code of Practice, which came into force on the 1st October.

Misinterpretation

A number of agents interpreted the paragraph as suggesting that the explicit consent of a tenant must be gained before gaining entry. However, The Property Ombudsman has said this is incorrect.

The paragraph has subsequently been amended, so it now reads:

‘Access to a property may be required by you, or an authorised third party on behalf of the landlord (e.g. a surveyor, builder, tradesman etc) for the purpose of viewing the condition, state of repair and/or to fulfil related statutory obligations and/or to carry out repairs. Ifyou hold the key but are not able to accompany that person, the tenant must be given the appropriate minimum notice of 24 hours or that prescribed by law, of the appointment (unless agreed otherwise with the tenant beforehand), except in cases of genuine emergency. Notwithstanding providing the tenant with reasonable notice to access a property, express consent from the tenant to do so should be obtained.’[1]

In practice then, an agent must give written confirmation of their request to access the property to the tenant.

TPO offers new guidance for agents entering properties

TPO offers new guidance for agents entering properties

Acceptable

Within this request, the tenant must be asked for their confirmation of their consent. This request must also be issued in good time, in order to allow the tenant reasonable time to respond. An absolute minimum timeframe is 24 hours.

The alteration was made to the TPO Lettings Code after a number of cases where agents had only given 24 hours notice, sometimes not through the correct channels. For example, many sent the request through text message before entering, often surprising the tenant.

The TPO said: ‘Whilst legal, this was clearly not good practice and not the manner in which we would expect agents, who had voluntarily chosen to follow the TPO Code, to behave.’[2]

[1] https://www.lettingagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2016/11/new-tpo-guidance-for-letting-agents-on-entering-properties