With the General Election a year away, there is a lot for Government and the opposing parties to think about. At the forefront is, as always, health, education, the economy, employment and housing, but not just lack of housing, the private rented sector is suddenly of interest.
This week saw the debate of the proposed Labour ban on letting agents charging fees to tenants. There is a lack of understanding on how letting agents run their business from critics and the consumer. They have no idea what it takes to set up an agency, let alone the responsibility an agent takes on when working with a landlord. This requires nerves of steel because just dealing with the elements relating to health and safety can be excruciatingly challenging.
Admittedly, I have come across some ridiculously high fees (and not always in London, I hasten to add), but in the main the fees are fair. Not every agent charges extortionate fees, not every agent takes advantage of tenants and not every agent is a rogue. We are fortunate enough to deal with agents who invest in training, who are compliant and who take pride in their business and reputation.
This morning I met with an agent, a new client and we discussed the Superstrike fiasco, Spencer V Taylor, the ASA Ruling & CAP guidance, amongst other things; the director makes it her business to ensure she is well-informed about what happens in the industry, this happens through investment. Another thing was clear – as members of RICS, ARLA, the NAEA – this agent spends a LOT of money on being voluntarily regulated, and I work with a great many agents who are in this category and I know it’s not cheap.
Yet, the good does not sell newspapers and create debate, the negative does.
The London Rental Standard is soon to be launched, followed by Compulsory Redress for all Letting Agents in England and then in April 2015 sees the Welsh Assembly will regulate landlords and agents.
I am often quoted as saying that I “love” my job and I love the industry I work in. There is a lot of good work being done, its a shame that its not supported by the powers that be.