Rip Off Letting Agents – Why Our Industry Needs To Up Its Game.
It was reported recently that a couple pretending to be letting agents conned tenants out of some £26,000.
They ripped off 21 tenants in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Walsall.
They showed tenants around properties, taking deposits. They then told the prospective renters that they had failed credit checks, but offered to accept six months’ rent in advance.
When the tenants arrived at the properties, they would find them already occupied.
Here is a good example of why our industry needs to take a close look at how easy it is to be a letting agent.
At the moment, other than being required to join an ombudsman scheme, just about anyone can set up as a letting agent and handle large sums of money on behalf of landlords and tenants. Surely this cannot be right!
Being a member of a professional body such as ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents), requires members to gain a qualification demonstrating a sound level of proficiency and knowledge of the industry. And, importantly, carry insurance for the protection of their clients and be part of a Client Money Protection Scheme safeguarding the client’s money. These safeguards ensure that both the landlord and tenant have a good degree of protection when they deal with agents who are ARLA members.
However, being an ARLA member of carrying any form of insurance or belonging to a Client Money Protection Scheme is not required to be a letting agent; it is a voluntary decision.
Our industry is predicted to continue to grow as demand for rental property increases year on year. We are responsible for handling some of the biggest payments tenants will ever make. Surely it’s time for us to stop making it so easy for fraudsters to blacken the reputation of our industry, affecting the majority of agents who seek to do the right thing by our landlords and tenants.
Surely it’s time for all agents to be required to demonstrate their professionalism, carry appropriate insurances and be accountable to a professional body.