Latest News

Gas Safety Superheroes

19 September 2019

Propertymark advocates for only the highest standards in the property industry, and this week during Gas Safety Week, we want to highlight the impacts of not doing the proper checks on your properties. Read More...

Agencies expelled from TPO

19 September 2019

Shoreditch based estate agent Chase & Co UK Ltd, (trading as Chase & Co UK) and Isle of Dogs based estate agent, Property 24/7 have been expelled from The Property Ombudsman (TPO). Read More...

Landlord hit with over £500k fine after illegally converting property

18 September 2019

A London landlord has been hit with fine of over £500,000 after illegally dividing his property into eight small flats. Read More...

Rogue agents fined over £1.2m

18 September 2019

Figures from the London Trading Standards (LTS) show rogue letting agents have been fined over £1.2m for breaking the law, either by not displaying fees and charges or for not being members of a redress scheme. Read More...

Lib Dems to scrap Section 21

18 September 2019

The Liberal Democrats have passed a motion which will scrap Section 21 'No Fault Evictions' in the private rented sector if they come to power at the next general election. Read More...

Have your say on Section 21

13 September 2019

ARLA Propertymark is encouraging all letting agents to respond to the UK Government’s consultation on ‘A new deal for renting: resetting the balance of rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants.’ Read More...

The beginning of the end for dodgy agents

Tuesday 06 August 2019

Popular comedian Joe Lycett’s exposure of a London letting agent’s questionable practices shows that consumer rights are more relevant than ever, and as we’re more than aware, terrible practice is out there, but could publicity on shows like this be the stepping stone needed in order to crack down on these agencies once and for all?

Most viewers might have thought Joe Lycett’s foray into consumer rights wouldn’t yield any tangible results; yet in his recent TV series, Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back, the comedian managed to not only inform viewers of the sometimes fraudulent tactics used by some letting agents, but he also managed to get some very real results.

The agency in question was accused of using several shady tactics to trick consumers; including:

  • Fake online reviews
  • Bait and Switch tactics
  • Pressure selling

Before the show they were previously prosecuted and fined for:

  • Renting an overcrowded property
  • Failing to publish fees
  • Engaging in misleading commercial practice

The segment went on to discuss the letting agents’ practice of using SpareRoom to advertise properties, sometimes in blatant disregard to the terms and conditions of the website; but, more importantly, the segment shone a light on what property professionals have known for a while: the industry still has elements of the Wild West, with cowboy agents getting away with ripping consumers off.

Only recently, the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme looked at another letting agent with questionable practices, including allegations of illegal evictions, viewing fees (under the guise of a holding deposit) and removing tenant’s belongings from the property without warning.

While a raft of legislation in recent years should be driving bad practice out, seedy practices used by a small, but significant, number of agents are still very much evident.

And what about the damage to reputable agents that choose to be regulated in the sector? For every property and tenant managed by less reliable agencies, it is essentially one less client for those agencies that work hard to treat tenants fairly and morally. There’s also the risk that agencies become tarred with the same brush.

It shouldn’t take a popular comedian to get justice for tenants that fall victim to dodgy letting agents, but with the public eye more widened to the realities of the property sector, consumers are hopefully more aware of their rights and take dodgy agents to task, and industry bodies like Propertymark can use this increased awareness to further lobby for a regulated sector, where professionals are rewarded and the rogues swiftly dealt with.

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