Latest News

Five ways to keep your landlords onside - Payprop

21 October 2019

Britain’s private rented sector is going through a crisis of confidence. Between changes to mortgage tax relief and the looming removal of Section 21 evictions, landlords are thinking hard about their futures in the industry. Read More...

A thirst to get qualified at the Propertymark Wales National Conference

18 October 2019

With so much change for agents in Wales in 2019, the delegates at the Propertymark Wales National Conference heard a legislative reminder on anti-money laundering, referral fees and the regulation of the industry. Read More...

London letting agents guilty of money laundering

18 October 2019

Three London agents have received suspended sentences after pleading guilty to fraud following an investigation made by the National Trading Standards eCrime Team. Read More...

Homeowners more than £350k better off than private renters over 30 years

18 October 2019

The average homeowner in the UK could be £352,500 better off than the average private renter over the next 30 years, new research from the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) says. Read More...

Landlord fined £25k for unlicensed properties

18 October 2019

A buy-to-let landlord in Nottingham was convicted of nine offences of failing to license properties under the Selective Licensing scheme at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court. Read More...

Appeal against private residential tenancy dismissed

17 October 2019

A tenant in Scotland who claimed that she and her landlords were subject to a private residential tenancy (PRT) in a house of multiple occupancy has had her appeal dismissed. 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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