RICHARD Maby, who works at the Henley branch of Savills, has worked in lettings for a long time
RICHARD Maby, who works at the Henley branch of Savills, has worked in lettings for a long time so you can trust his local knowledge. He told Standard Property all about the advantages of using a licensed agentâ?¦
“IT may come as a shock to hear that there is no legal obligation for a lettings agent to be licensed. In theory, anyone can set up an agency and take rent and deposits without someone checking or regulating whether they are either qualified or competent.
“So how can a consumer tell that the agent they are choosing is licensed rather than unlicensed, and what is the difference?
“Firstly, establish the agent you choose to use is a member of a professional body such as ARLA (Association of Residential Lettings Agents); RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors); or NALS (National Approved Letting Scheme).
“These bodies regulate the private rented sector, acting completely independently from their member agents.
“They require their members to follow their Code of Practice and Rules of Conduct, continuously keeping up to date with the latest legislative changes and regulations affecting lettings and ensuring there is a Client Money Protection Scheme (CMP) in place so should the agent go into liquidation or disappear, there is some protection covering the deposits and any rents held by the agent.
“As a minimum, along with CMP, agents are required to have the following:
“The provision of professional indemnity insurance in order to protect landlords and tenants from financial losses incurred through negligent or misleading advice.
“Defined accounting standards relating to clients’ money â?? in the case of Savills, we have a designated client account, where clients and tenants’ money is held completely separately from the operating funds of our firm and, as a result, is safeguarded.
“A customer complaints procedure, so if something goes wrong there is a system in place to follow. In October 2014, it became law for every lettings department in the country to belong to one of three mandatory redress schemes. Savills has long been a member of the Ombudsman Services: Property Redress Scheme, the membership of which ensures that, when a dispute arises and if, having undergone the company’s internal complaints procedure, the aggrieved party remains unhappy with the outcome, there is the opportunity for that party to raise the issue with the relevant redress scheme who will independently assess and evaluate the case and its outcome.
“Finally, to be a member of an ombudsman scheme.
“The potential legal and financial consequences of using an unlicensed agent in a sector which has grown Â and continues to grow, increasingly litigious, are significant.
“Ultimately, the question a client or tenant should ask when deliberating over whether to choose a licensed agent is really, ‘can I afford not to?’”