By Steve Roulstone

Shelter part 5


The Governing Bodies.

As a member of ARLA and TPO I will restrict my review on professional bodies to these two organisations and what they recommend, but I have to state at the very beginning, how much easier it would be if legislation was passed which embodied such recommendations in the same way as RICS codes of practise are adopted by the Government.

There is no doubt that bodies such as ARLA and TPO will have to come off the fence and state their opinion. Because at present, the advice listed is about clarity and visibility if fees, not about the level of fees. RICS who the Courts would turn to for guidance in any court case, agree with my opinion, Peter Bolton King in an RICS Blog on the subject states: Shelter’s proposal does little to protect exposed renters to all manner of unethical practices on the part of unscrupulous agents.

Another vote for legislation and a weighty one at that! But consider the opposite for a moment? If Shelter get there way, Tenants will lose the protection that they possess as a fee paying customer, there interests will still be subject to the correct duty of care and from what seems to be happening in Scotland, yet another barrier between Landlord and Tenant will not be introduced. All of this, in an Industry that would still remain unlegislated, for their recommendation, whilst supporting legislation, does not include it. Surely what Shelter should be doing, rather than just shooting from the hip, is working with the Industry, to push for the legislation those who believe in professionalism are seeking already.

There is another area where I believe Shelter to be wrong and that is in the area of choice. Some 20% of UK housing stock is now available through the private rental stock. That is choice in anybody’s book and to state that Tenants are forced down the route of high fees is not true, certainly not in my town. Through choice, Tenants can walk away from high fees, just as Landlords have the choice to resist Agents that charge unreasonable fees to Tenants. Only yesterday, I drove past an office advertising to Landlords, that they could rent their property at no cost to the Landlords at all!

It is clear from such instances that Shelter has some justification for what they are attempting and I must make it clear that I agree in principal with their case. What is also clear is that I do not agree with their assumptions and methods, but whilst some agents advertise in this manner, they will always have an ear. What is needed is debate and discussion as the more people who are made aware the better for the industry. All could take action in their own way, hopefully against those who give credence to Shelters cause.

In summary, I was always taught that it is better to lean on an open door than try to smash them all down? The picture painted is I believe unreasonable, but not without cause. The aim however is somewhat misguided and would do better and I believe achieve much more, if accompanied by legislation that was enforceable. In the meantime, healthy debate will spread the knowledge of what is happening and I encourage everything that is done to further healthy knowledge.

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