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NHS announce test and trace service

29 May 2020

The new service is said to play a vital role in providing an early warning if COVID-19 activity is increasing locally, regionally, or nationally and the NHS asks employers in England to do their part to help. Read More...

Tenant Fees Act 2019 – Transition period comes to an end

29 May 2020

The Tenant Fees Act 2019 provided for a 12-month transition period for tenancies which started before June 2019 and ends on 31 May 2020, meaning any tenancy clauses in existing contracts that charge fees will become unenforceable after this date. Read More...

Easing of lockdown restrictions in Wales

29 May 2020

First Minister Mark Drakeford has today announced the latest parameters for movement in Wales. The announcement focused on allowing some social interaction but was clear that the priority is physically limiting spread. Read More...

Tenant fee ban – 10 top tips for letting agents

29 May 2020

As part of ARLA Propertymark’s Tenant Fees Tool Kit, we’ve put together 10 of our top tips for letting agents ahead of the Tenant Fees Act 2019 12-month transition period coming to an end on 31 May. Read More...

Property sector moves into Phase One in Scotland

28 May 2020

The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has said that the conditions are there to allow Scotland to move into Phase One of its four-phase route-map out of the Coronavirus crisis from 28 May 2020. Read More...

New guidance on collecting belongings

28 May 2020

The Welsh Government has issued new guidance for tenants who wish to return to rented accommodation to collect possessions during the Coronavirus pandemic. 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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