Monthly Archives: March 2013

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By Craig Smith

The lettings industry has continued to grow particularly over the last 5 or 6 years where so many people have struggled to sell. Certainly in our office we have noticed the increase in the amount of properties coming in to the rental sector and likewise, the demand from tenants who need somewhere to live! This just goes to show the importance of the need to protect anyone in lettings as there is a lot of money involved around the industry. (Rent payment and deposits perhaps the most commonly known.)

In the House of Lords earlier this month the majority voted to regulate the industry as a whole which could mean all agents and Landlords have to sign up to one scheme. They could also be included in the rules of the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) which could ban rogue agents from trading.

Joining Regulatory Bodies

As we have said before, signing up to a scheme is more than just about being able to display a logo in the window, it means so much more than that. A lot of Landlords do feel safer in the knowledge that their agent is already regulated and that what they are doing is right. Not only is our office registered as a member of ARLA, the majority of staff in our lettings office are also ARLA trained. There are various levels of qualifications available with our individual members having to pass a number of examinations before being able to gain membership. I have been there and done that, so can tell you it takes a lot of hard work to pass the exams and to prove that you have what it takes!

Castle Estates have been trading here at our offices in Stafford for 13 years and have been a member of ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) since almost day one. Being a member of a regulatory body has never been compulsory for letting agents in this country and our decision to join was through choice and not necessity.

Of course, there are other bodies that can be joined which cover different aspects of the business. For example, the SafeAgent scheme is only for agents or Landlords who protect their clients through money protection schemes. Again, we are proud to say that we are part of this scheme so that if ever anything should happen to us, our clients’ money is protected.

The other main body that we are a part of is The Property Ombudsman which means that we have to adhere to their codes of practice. Yet another logo in the window that means our clients are reassured that their money is safe.

Deposit Systems Already Changed

Since 6th April 2007, any deposit taken for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy needs to be registered with one of the three approved schemes. We’ve talked about these until we’re blue in the face in the past so won’t bore you with all the details again now! But this is just another area of the industry that has been tightened up over the last few years with penalties to those who don’t comply.

The idea of the ensuring the deposit is protected is to stop rogue Landlords keeping a tenants’ deposit without a valid reason. Before deposits were registered, it could be costly for a tenant to go through the courts to try and get their money back but each of the schemes operates an easier and fair method of mediating between the parties.

One Scheme For All?

Nobody yet knows for certain how the government backed scheme would work to cover all Landlords or when it would come in to force. We believe this could work well and rogue Landlords could soon be a thing of the past, so we welcome this news with open arms!