Check your lettings agent is not a rogue!

By Mike White of Martin & Co lettings in Norwich 

SF_01_.jpgThe Eastern Daily Press carried an interesting article in the lettings supplement written by legal eagle, Tessa Shepperson on Tuesday January 5 outlining the dilemma faced by landlords and tenants when an agent runs off with rent and security deposits. Good sound information and advice from Tessa.

I have banged on before in previous articles about the need for landlords and tenants to check and double check on their proposed agent before entrusting them with any hard earned cash. As I’m sure all of the many honest and dedicated professionals in the lettings industry will agree, it is beyond belief that lettings is not properly government regulated and overseen. Hopefully it’s only a matter of time before this happens and the rogues are exposed and weeded out. In the meantime, the serious players will have to continue to show their bona fides by submitting themselves to voluntary regulation by belonging to one of the professional bodies such as RICs, ARLA, NALS, TPO.

Trouble is, it isn’t that difficult to fabricate membership of one of these bodies. Yes, anyone about to engage with a letting agent must ask and receive satisfactory answers to questions like:-

Do you belong to a Professional Body?

Do you have Client Money Insurance?

Do you have Professional Indemnity Insurance

Do you belong to the The Property Ombudsmans Scheme for letting agents?

What was the date of your last Independent Audit?

Ensure you have satisfactory answers then DOUBLE CHECK them, it’s really easy. Let’s use NALS membership as the example as this is the one I’m familiar with. First off take a look at NALS website………..http://www.nalscheme.co.uk/ …….and check two things:

The agent in question is listed as a bona fide member.

NALS requirements for being a member.

In fact just undertaking these simple checks should satisfy all of the above questions since NALs insist on members having all these coverages as a prerequisite of membership. For example, NALS insist on members also being members of The Property Ombudsmans Scheme…take a look at the TPOS website; http://www.tpos.co.uk/ and have a look at whose a member in Norwich. There are currently 32 listed under the letting agents category. Before my lettings colleagues shout Foul, I should explain that some members of RICs use a different redress scheme so this will reduce the number of Non- Regulated agents out there but even so, there’s still a lot of agents that are not subjecting themselves to scrutiny by third parties! Potentially, they could be playing fast and loose with their clients money just as our late friend was. Don’t let yourself fall victim to this – Check and double check.

By the way, Nick Taylor’s “Up your Street” blog this week was most apropos!

For more information please call Mike at Martin & Co., on 01603 766860 at 13 St Giles Street Norwich

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