Posts with tag: letting agents

Insufficient Enforcement in Rental Sector Incentivises Rogue Landlords and Agents

Published On: June 27, 2018 at 8:54 am


Categories: Landlord News

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According to Kate Faulkner, Housing Market Commentator for the TDS Charitable Foundation, failure to enforce private rental sector (PRS) regulations is incentivising rogue landlords and agents.

Faulkner discovered that, despite efforts to rectify regulation and standards in the sector, including Housing Health and Safety Rating System, a lack of compliance was shown, in addition to a lack of enforcement by some landlords and agents. Due to this, many efforts made, were futile.

145 pieces of legislation have been presented covering the PRS, with 50% revealed since 1996. However, more properties are deemed as ‘non-decent’.

The report utilises data taken from the English Housing Survey to convey that, despite the proportion of non-decent properties with reported issues of overcrowding, damp, fire risks or hazardous electrics, there are properties in the PRS dropped from almost 47% in 2006 to 28% in 2015. The growth of the sector has meant that these properties have increased from 1.2m to 1.3m.

The report expresses that, whilst the legislation introduced had rendered properties far safer, such as rules on gas safety, there remained many tenants who were oblivious to what passed as acceptable standards for a property.

It also warns that the cost of improvements could mean that rents will rise and that it will be more difficult for tenants to afford decent homes.

Faulkner comments: “Due to the rising costs to good landlords and a scant enforcement of PRS regulations, there is an incentive for some landlords and agents to act outside the law to increase their profit margins.

“The increased costs to landlords of buying a property, then letting it legally and safely, means that in some cases rents have increased beyond the means of some tenants. Reputable landlords and agents are being penalised financially for abiding by the law.

“It can create a vicious cycle and a two-tiered rental market, which the legislation was never intended to create.

“The problem, as I see it, is that bills are introduced on the sector all the time but aren’t backed with a communications plan or funding for enforcement.

“Myriad legislation can be confusing for tenants, and rogue landlords and agents often get away with offering sub-standard homes as tenants don’t know their rights.

“In reality, tenants hold the power in terms of accepting or rejecting poor or dangerous properties, although where supply is scant, this power disappears.”

Furthermore, the Government has recently launched new online information, with the purpose of enabling landlords and tenants to be certain about what rights they have. In addition, rental guides published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, also include checklists for landlords, existing tenants and letting agents.

These new guides will be extremely effective, as, private landlords will be provided with the opportunity to further their knowledge, regarding their primary responsibilities and most effective practices when letting a property. Moreover, paramount knowledge on how to conduct gas safety checks, install smoke and carbon dioxide alarms will be furthered, alongside the process of tenancy deposit protection.

Housing minister Heather Wheeler commented: “Every day across the country thousands of people move house – from young people leaving home for the first time, to those relocating after years in the same property.

“Whatever the circumstance, we want to ensure renters, landlords and leaseholders are armed with information so they know their rights, responsibilities and can challenge poor behaviour.

“The guides will be reviewed in light of any new legislation to ensure tenants, landlords and leaseholders are supplied with up-to-date information.”


To ensure that landlords understand their responsibilities, and protect the health and safety of their tenants, we have a wide range of free, useful guides on a host of lettings laws – view them here:

One Stone, Seventeen Birds: Seventeen Letting Agents Fined by One Council

Published On: June 22, 2018 at 9:26 am


Categories: Law News

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Failure to comply with legislation has led to 17 letting agents being fined. Two branches of Foxtons have been named and shamed among this 17, in addition to a letting agent that is now in liquidation.

Between July 2016 and the end of this month, Tower Hamlets, in London, underwent an investigation of 401 letting agents and landlords. The purpose of this investigation was to monitor compliance with regulations including fees transparency and evidence of deposit protection.

It was referred to by the Council, as a crackdown on hidden fees.

We remind all letting agents to comply with their responsibilities on fees, particularly ahead of the ban on charging fees to tenants

Though specific information wasn’t exposed, Tower Hamlets revealed that a total of 27 letting agents, landlords and managing agents have all received a combined fine of a staggering £150,000. Fines issued ranged from £1,000 to £10,000.

What happens to those who have received fines?

Those who received fines are immediately required to make the necessary changes to ensure that they are compliant with legislation requirements. To ensure that these actions have been implemented, the Council  is due to carry out further inspections.

A spokesman for Tower Hamlets commented: “We are committed to ensuring people wanting to live in our borough are not exploited by rogue letting agents or landlords. We will not tolerate individuals or organisations actively trying to mislead our residents.

“The majority of letting and managing agents in Tower Hamlets successfully help people to settle within our diverse and growing borough. It’s disappointing that a small number are acting dishonestly and misleading people looking for a new home.”

Commenting on the protection for residents is Cllr Sirajul Islam: “We are protecting our residents by ensuring they have all of the information needed prior to renting their property. Transparency from letting agents, managing agents and landlords is imperative to ensure the process is fair for everyone involved.”

New App to Make Landlord Inventories Quicker and Easier

Published On: June 14, 2018 at 8:37 am


Categories: Landlord News

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Landlords and letting agents will be rejoicing at the news that a new app has been developed to help shorten the time it takes to complete an inspection and the necessary report.

With it being the time of year when many students are moving from one accommodation to another, this new app will most likely be well received.

Inventories are a vital part of any tenancy, as it is imperative that you are aware of the condition and contents of the property before a tenant moves in. You do have the option of paying for a specialist, which would most likely be more time efficient if you are not too familiar with doing inventories. The option is to find a landlord inventory template and do it yourself, which is where this app may come in handy.

Created by Suki Tiwana, owner of West Midlands Property Inventories, it aims to speed up the lengthy process. Whereas before it would take Tiwana, an experienced landlord, around three and a half hours to complete an inventory for a furnished three-bedroom house with the assistance of existing apps, she has now developed a more direct method.

Having the task of 100 inventories from multiple clients within a 2-week period during last year was clearly a major motivation for this property professional.

Suki Tiwana said: “The main issue was the app. Existing apps had been designed to ensure the user captured some of the required details by giving them many time-consuming, drop-down menus. These menus are completely unnecessary if the user knows what they are doing.

“We launched the app at an event in Birmingham. We had excellent feedback from the launch with letting agents seeing this as a good way to make £100 profit per inventory while improving the service to their landlords.”

For more information on the importance of inventories and how they can help to avoid disputes, you can check out our free guide. Simply sign up on the Landlord News website to access this and more.

Automated Payment Systems can Reduce Letting Agency Fraud

Published On: June 5, 2018 at 9:44 am


Categories: Lettings News


Proptech firm PayProp have stated that the automation of rental payment administration can reduce the incidence of rogue letting agencies withholding client money for dishonest reasons.

The firm says that the use of payment systems can increase transparency, as it provides an automatic, unalterable digital record.

Increased regulation and automation to combat fraud

This claim by PayProp follows the recent confirmation that membership of a Client Money Protection (CMP) scheme is to become compulsory next April. This development follows the discovery of a number of fraudulent activities by letting agencies, resulting in those agencies being expelled by the Property Ombudsman.

CMP schemes protect landlord and tenant money in the event an agency goes out of business or misappropriates the funds.

Fines will be introduced from April 2019 for agencies that aren’t members of an approved scheme. They may be charged up to £30,000. For agencies that don’t display the details of their CMP scheme membership on their website and in their office, they will be dined up to £5,000.

Landlords and tenants still losing significant sums of money

Earlier this year, the Property Omsbudsman Scheme made the announcement that three agencies had been expelled for various payment issues. These issues included one agency withholding over £12,000 of rent, and another not putting a deposit in a protection scheme, amongst other failings.

The expulsion of another agency was due to it making no record of a £1,375 deposit and advance rent payment, which it subsequently withheld.

Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer of PayProp in the UK, said: “Cases of rental payment fraud are relatively rare, but there are still too many examples of landlords and tenants being left out of pocket by unscrupulous letting agencies.

“These are significant sums of money for consumers so there should always be documentation and evidence of all payments received by agencies.”

Agencies need the right systems to manage payments

Cobbold went on to add: “The introduction of mandatory CMP membership for agencies will be a crucial step towards reducing the chances of rental payment fraud occurring. This much-needed regulation, combined with an increase in adoption of automated rental payment systems, can improve transparency across the rental sector.”

Around 80% of agencies are thought to already be members of an approved CMP scheme, which leaves approximately 3,200 firms that need to register with one before April 2019.

He also stated: “Mandatory CMP will ensure that consumers’ funds are protected, but it’s also important that agencies have the systems in place to manage payments efficiently and accurately.

“An automated, bank-integrated payment system allows agents and landlords to see the live status of a portfolio, providing digital reconciliation which can be vastly more accurate.”

A reduction in fraud can boost the whole industry

“The prospect of reduced rental payment fraud through the introduction of mandatory CMP scheme membership and increased digitisation of payments can boost the whole industry,” Cobbold continued.

“It can contribute towards improving the public perception of letting agencies with fewer negative headlines in the mainstream press. Tenants and landlords, meanwhile, can continue to operate safe in the knowledge that their money is protected.”

“Increased regulation of the rental sector combined with effective utilisation of PropTech can help letting agencies to thrive and become more profitable in a market that continues to grow rapidly,” he concluded.

PayProp is a bank-integrated automated payment platform, which, since launching in the UK in 2015, has grown to manage the payments on more than 23,000 active tenancies.

Spring Slowdown Recorded in the UK Lettings Market

Published On: May 21, 2018 at 8:05 am


Categories: Lettings News

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Following a buoyant month for the UK lettings market in March, the latest figures from Agency Express’ Property Activity Index have shown a spring slowdown for April.

The report reveals a decline in both the number of properties to let and the amount of properties let last month, marking an unusual spring slowdown for the UK lettings market.

Across the country, the number of properties to let dropped by 9.4% on a monthly basis in April, while the amount of properties let fell by 9.1%.

Just two of the 12 regions included in the Property Activity Index reported growth in the number of properties to let and properties let. April’s top performing regions were London and the South West.

The number of properties to let in the capital rose by 10.7% in April, while the amount of properties let in the South West was up by 5.2%. Looking back over Agency Express’ historical records, we can see that both regions have also recorded year-on-year increases.

Other top performing regions, which recorded the smallest declines in April, included:

Properties to let

  • Central England: -1.7%
  • Yorkshire and the Humber: -4.6%
  • West Midlands: -5.9%
  • Wales: -8.3%
  • North West: -8.9%

Properties let 

  • Yorkshire and the Humber: -1.0%
  • Central England: -2.8%
  • Scotland: -4.6%
  • East Midlands: -6.4%
  • North East: -6.4%

The greatest decrease in April’s index was recorded in Wales. The number of properties let dropped by 25%, marking the region’s largest month-on-month decline for April since 2015. Looking at the index’s rolling three-monthly data, the overall fall is lower, with the amount of properties let down by just 4.5%.

Stephen Watson, the Managing Director of Agency Express, comments: “We traditionally see a slowdown in activity throughout April and this month is no different. However, if we look back on the Property Activity Index’s historical records, we can see that the declines made this year are less than 12 months previous. As we now move into what is usually a robust period for the market, we would hope to see a fairly robust spike in activity.”

Mandatory Code and Qualifications are Final Steps Towards Professional Lettings Market

Published On: May 10, 2018 at 9:06 am


Categories: Lettings News


Efforts to professionalise the lettings sector of the UK’s housing market have come a long way recently. The latest proposals for a mandatory code of practice are in place with a range of other measures, intended to regulate the lettings sector.

With the aim of improving living conditions in an ever-growing rental market, recent measures include a proposed ban on tenant fees, a cap on holding and security deposits, compulsory membership of a Client Money Protection (CMP) scheme, a blacklist of criminal agents and landlords, as well as banning orders for offenders.

The proposed mandatory code of practice and a national qualification for letting agents is one of the final steps towards a fully professional lettings sector. These new measures were announced in April, and include a requirement for ongoing professional development and training for agents, as well as increased support for leaseholders.


Efforts to professionalise the lettings sector have come a long way recently, with latest proposals asking for a mandatory code of practice.

Efforts to professionalise the lettings sector have come a long way recently, with latest proposals asking for a mandatory code of practice.

Effective combination of legislation is paramount

When fully implemented, these measures are likely to create a more professional lettings sector for future tenants. With a strong focus on protecting tenants’ money. However, implementing new legislation effectively (and ensuring it’ll combine effectively could prove to be the biggest challenge to the government.

Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer of PayProp in the UK, says: “We welcome these proposals. Lettings will always be a customer service industry and professional standards should be at the heart of everything agents do.

“However, with so many new measures being introduced over a short period of time, it’s crucial that the government takes a holistic and considered approach to ensure maximum effectiveness. For example, the deposit cap and fees ban, compulsory CMP membership and these new proposals should be introduced as part of a coherent and logical step-by-step process under the banner of professional standards.”

“A piecemeal or scattergun approach could be counterproductive, leaving agents and consumers in the dark,” he adds.

Timescales and implementation of legislation is crucial

If using the ban on lettings fees as an example, “from announcement to introduction, it will have taken well over two years for the ban on fees to be implemented which may lead the industry to believe a similar timescale may be expected for these new measures,” explains Cobbold.

“What’s more, it’s unclear at this stage whether the new independent regulator will work alongside or independently of the existing redress schemes and how much the maximum fines for the worst offenders will be.

Transparency and technology are the future

As the private rental market becomes increasingly regulated by the government, the professional standards of letting agents are likely to increase further.

As Cobbold says, “Minimum standards will help to rid the sector of rogue agents and effective adoption of technology can facilitate improved levels of professionalism across the industry.”

With so many new regulations and legislation being put in place for landlords and those working in the housing market, check out our guides page for lots of information regarding your responsibilities as a landlord. Keep up with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ too, for all our news and article updates.