Latest News

Agency fined after admitting substandard safety

23 August 2019

A property agency has been fined £3,000 by Bolton Magistrates Court after putting tenants’ lives at risk with substandard safety measures. Read More...

How to Rent clarification

21 August 2019

After receiving feedback from our members regarding the updated How to rent: the checklist for renting in England, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has now provided clarification to ARLA Propertymark. Read More...

Propertymark launch Tenant Fees Toolkit Wales

21 August 2019

ARLA Propertymark has today launched a Tenant Fees Toolkit for letting agents working in Wales to help members prepare for the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019. Read More...

Welsh ban on fees – 10 top tips for letting agents

21 August 2019

As part of ARLA Propertymark’s Tenant Fees Toolkit Wales, we’ve put together 10 of our top tips for letting agents ahead of the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act coming into force on 1 September 2019. Read More...

Right to Rent uncertainty as deadlines brought forward

20 August 2019

Media speculation around Brexit yesterday focused on Freedom of Movement and Immigration once again, as reports emerged that Home Secretary Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, plans to abandon the Government’s existing commitment to Right to Rent procedures abruptly on 1st November. Read More...

Welsh Government issues fee ban guidelines

19 August 2019

Guidance for the Renting Homes (Fees Etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 has been issued for landlords and letting agents. The guidelines explain what payments and fees may or may not be taken when setting up and amending a tenancy, and the consequences of taking prohibited payments. 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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