Posts with tag: letting agents

New toolkit targets rogue agents

Published On: June 28, 2016 at 10:39 am


Categories: Landlord News

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The National Approved Letting Scheme has moved to create a toolkit which is designed to assist local authorities in tackling rogue agents.

This scheme claims that cuts to public spending have left some local authorities without the knowledge and skillset to efficiently regulate the private rented sector.


In a press release, the National Approved Letting Scheme claim that only 16% of local authorities have moved to issue penalties for failure to comply with redress scheme membership.

It must be noted however that this figure involved results from only 37 councils from research conducted between August and September 2015.

The toolkit proposed by the National Approved Letting Scheme includes:

  • warning letters to agents who fail to comply with legal duties.
  • advice on serving civil penalties
  • requirements on belonging to a redress scheme
  • the need for agents to display fees
  • client money protection advice
  • powers of councils
New toolkit targets rogue agents

New toolkit targets rogue agents

Raising standards

Isobel Thomson, chief executive of the National Approved Letting Scheme, said, ‘only by raising standards across the sector can we start to tackle the small minority whose rogue activities tarnish our reputation. This toolkit is designed to be a ‘one stop shop’ for local authorities working with the private rented sector. They are, after all, in the enforcement front line.’[1]




Lettings Market Will be Unaffected in Short-Term by EU Referendum Result

Published On: June 23, 2016 at 8:27 am


Categories: Property News

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The lettings market will be unaffected in the short-term by the result of today’s EU referendum, regardless of the outcome, according to the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

ARLA’s member letting agents believe that supply, demand and rent prices will stay at the same level for the near future, whatever the result of today’s crucial vote.

Lettings Market Will be Unaffected in Short-Term by EU Referendum Result

Lettings Market Will be Unaffected in Short-Term by EU Referendum Result

Although the private rental sector looks to be unfazed by the referendum result, Stamp Duty changes continue to be an issue for the lettings market.

ARLA’s May Private Rental Sector report found that two thirds of agents expect supply to stay the same if the UK votes to leave the EU, compared to just a fifth who predict it will decline, as international investors leave the market.

Almost one third (31%) believe that demand will drop as a result of a Brexit, while 55% think it will remain as high as it is currently.

However, two months on from the introduction of the 3% Stamp Duty surcharge for buy-to-let landlords, letting agents are starting to feel the effects.

A third (37%) of agents have reported a decrease in the supply of rental properties since the Stamp Duty changes came into force. The proportion rises significantly in Wales, where 80% witnessed a dip in supply, as well as in the East Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber, where exactly half of ARLA member agents saw a decline.

Around half (48%) of agents predict that supply will continue to drop, as more landlords vacate the private rental sector as a result of the changes to mortgage interest tax relief, which come into force from next year.

The Managing Director of ARLA, David Cox, comments: “There is no avoiding the EU referendum at the moment, and whatever the outcome, we are likely to feel the impact of the fall-out of this debate in different ways.

“However, it’s important to put this into perspective and not get carried away. As outlined in our recent Brexit report, the lettings market hosts a large number of non-UK born citizens, and any change in migration policy is likely to have an impact down the line, especially in London.

“However, our monthly report clearly shows the sentiment among members is that the immediacy of this effect is likely to be minimal.”

Yesterday, we released the results of our own EU referendum poll, which found that over 60% of landlords and property professionals believe that we should stay in the EU.

Bill to Abolish Letting Agent Fees Unopposed in House of Lords

Published On: June 15, 2016 at 10:10 am


Categories: Property News,Tenant Fees Ban

Tags: ,,

A new bill that seeks to abolish letting agent fees charged to tenants had an unopposed second reading in the House of Lords on Friday.

The Renters’ Rights Bill, supported by Labour and introduced by a Liberal Democrat peer, would amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 by stopping letting agents charging tenants or prospective tenants the following fees for: registration, admin, inventories, reference checks, renewals or exits.

The new bill also proposes an amendment to the new Housing and Planning Act 2016, by opening up the register of rogue landlords and letting agents to tenants and prospective renters.

The register, which is not yet in operation, is currently only intended to be available to local authorities and the Government.

The new bill also proposes that any landlord or agent on the rogue database would not be granted a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) license.

The private member’s bill would apply in England only and has been introduced by Baroness Grender, a former director of communications for housing charity Shelter. Labour has offered its full support.

Bill to Abolish Letting Agent Fees Unopposed in House of Lords

Bill to Abolish Letting Agent Fees Unopposed in House of Lords

While the bill would normally be considered unlikely to become law without Government backing, a petition to the Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, to ban letting agent fees, has now achieved over 250,000 signatures.

Grender claims that private tenants are being failed by a housing market that is stacked against them.

She said: “Unlike purchasers of high street goods or services who are generally covered by well-developed consumer rights, consumers of private sector housing lack the protections they need. They are often at the mercy of landlords and lettings agents, and have little recourse to take action in the case of poor quality or rip-off housing.

“A case in point is letting fees that agents charge tenants: Registration fees, credit check fees, reference check fees, renewal fees, name change fees, admin fees, exit fees… the list goes on. Almost all of them are arbitrary and disproportionate to the service provided.”

However, she added: “Yet tenants are powerless to do much about it, in a market where demand for homes relentlessly grows and options are limited. It is time for Government intervention to address this imbalance of power and build up the consumer rights of renters.

“Letting agents should not be able to get away with double charging fees – imposing them on both tenants and landlords – when in fact it is only the landlord that is the client, and therefore the one that should be paying.

“Tenants are charged fees because agents know they can get away with it. These fees are already banned in many countries, including Scotland and the US, because the pro-consumer case for doing so is clear.”1

The Government spokesperson, Viscount Younger of Leckie, responded: “The Government is clear that the vast majority of letting agents do provide a good service to tenants and landlords, and that most fees charged do reflect genuine business costs.

“I note [Lady Grender] did acknowledge this briefly in her comments. I do not believe a blanket ban on letting agent fees is the answer to tackling the small minority of rogue letting agents who exploit their customers by imposing inflated fees for their service.”

He pointed out existing laws prohibiting landlords and letting agents from “unfair terms or fees”1, adding that letting agents must publicise their fees.


Generation Rent Calls for House of Lords to Support Ban on Letting Agent Fees

Published On: June 10, 2016 at 9:03 am


Categories: Finance News,Tenant Fees Ban

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Tenant lobby group Generation Rent has called for the House of Lords to support a ban on letting agent fees charged to tenants when the issue is debated today.

The Renters’ Rights Bill, introduced by Baroness Grender, is due to have its second reading debate in the House of Lords today, Friday 10th June 2016.

Generation Rent Calls for House of Lords to Support Ban on Letting Agent Fees

Generation Rent Calls for House of Lords to Support Ban on Letting Agent Fees

Generation Rent will be joining tenants outside Parliament at 11am today to demonstrate support for the bill, alongside Vicky Spratt of The Debrief, whose Make Renting Fair campaign has attracted over 250,000 signatures on a petition to ban fees.

Vicky will be broadcasting live on Facebook from College Green outside Parliament at 11am. She will be online for 30-45 minutes at:

The Facebook live stream will include Vicky interviewing Baroness Grender about why she believes letting agent fees should be banned.

There will also be a discussion with Betsy Dillner, the Director of Generation Rent, about the campaign and why she thinks action should be taken as soon as possible.

Vicky also hopes to speak to other parliamentarians during the live stream.

The Renters’ Rights Bill would end letting agent fees for tenants and would enable tenants to access information about rogue landlords, as well as tighten the law on electrical safety checks in rental properties. It is expected to be debated in the House of Lords after 12.30pm today.

Follow the campaign on Twitter with #makerentingfair.

Dillner explains the need for the ban: “With a captive market of desperate renters, there’s nothing stopping letting agents from charging grossly inflated fees at the start, middle and end of tenancies. If landlords had to pay all the fees instead, agents would have to start lowering their prices and tenants would find it easier to move, leading to a much more efficient rental market.”

Spratt continues: “We are currently in the midst of a housing crisis. Frankly, I’m surprised it’s not yet being called a housing disaster. We simply don’t have enough homes, and a buy-to-let boom has trapped more people than ever in the private rental market. Young people, in particular, face the prospect of renting long into their adult lives.

“It’s high time that legislation changed and that renting began to work for the people who have no choice but to live in rented accommodation. This is a common sense issue. Letting fees have been banned in Scotland since 2012 and the market works. We need to do the same in England.”

One in Five Landlords and Tenants Unprotected by Client Money Protection

Published On: June 6, 2016 at 9:25 am


Categories: Finance News

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One in Five Landlords and Tenants Unprotected by Client Money Protection

One in Five Landlords and Tenants Unprotected by Client Money Protection

At least one in five landlords and tenants are not protected by Client Money Protection (CMP), according to a new study.

Research by YouGov, conducted on behalf of SAFEagent, shows that hundreds of pounds of landlords’ and tenants’ money held by letting agents is at risk because the funds are not protected by CMP.

Letting agents in the UK currently hold over £2.7 billion of landlords’ and tenants’ money in the form of rent payments and tenancy deposits. However, at least 20% of landlords and tenants would be unable to recover their funds if an agent stole the cash or used it fraudulently, as their money is not protected under the CMP scheme.

With around 61% of tenants incorrectly believing that their money is protected by law, the SAFEagent Awareness Week kicks off today, highlighting the importance of CMP for landlords and tenants when letting through an agent.

Although compulsory CMP is now finally on the Government’s agenda, through amendments to the Housing and Planning Bill, many consumers are still at risk. Therefore, SAFEagent is campaigning for full and mandatory CMP.

The Chair of SAFEagent, John Midgley, explains: “If an agent were to steal landlord or tenant money without CMP in place, there’s little chance of getting their money back. Would you use a travel agency who isn’t ABTA protected? Consumers who use agents without CMP in place are taking a massive risk.

“While we are finally getting closer to mandatory CMP, we aren’t there yet. It is so important that tenants and landlords understand that the right to redress only goes so far, and they need to choose their agent wisely by asking if they are part of a CMP scheme before signing on the dotted line.”

Find out more about SAFEagent Awareness Week (6th-10th June) on the firm’s page:

Technology to check tenants’ social media profiles

Published On: May 26, 2016 at 8:58 am


Categories: Landlord News

Tags: ,,,

Cutting-edge technology could be about to greatly assist letting agents and landlords throughout the buy-to-let process.

Tenant Assured utilises automated social profiling technology that assesses tenants’ social media accounts to surmise personality traits. This will allow landlords and agents to chose tenants and check up on their behaviour during tenancies.

Suitable tenants

Before the technology can be used, the tenant must give their consent on which social media profiles can be accessed. Tenant Assured hopes that this profiling can go hand-in-hand with traditional checks conducted before a tenancy agreement, such as referencing and credit checks.

Should a tenant agree to the profiling check, Tenant Assured aims to give an insight into five key personality traits that could affect the potential relationship:

  • extraversion
  • neuroticism
  • openness
  • agreeableness
  • conscientiousness
Technology to check tenants' social media profiles

Technology to check tenants’ social media profiles

Checking patterns

In addition, the profiling system gives information which could be of interest to agents and landlords throughout the tenancy.

Checking tenants’ social media accounts will pick up on their travel patterns and assess if they are spending substantial amounts of time away from the property. It will also pick up factors like a change of job or relationship status, which could affect their rental future.

Ben Stubbs, managing director of Score Assured, parent company of Tenant Assured, said, ‘we can help landlords determine the potential problem tenants and help the good ones secure the property they really want.’[1]

‘The insights we are able to collect with the consent of the tenant will protect landlords from costs involved in collecting rent arrears, evictions or repairing damage to their property. Currently, landlords rely on third parties to pull together traditional checks. Our product can add another layer of security to this by helping landlords get to know their prospective tenants so much better,’ Stubbs added.[1]