A word of advice from Martine Harris, Head of Lettings at Moginie James.
This morning i met with a lovely lady who decided to rent out a property in Cathays last year – unfortunately, she decided to instruct an unregulated agent, not being aware of the potential pitfalls.
The landlord had tenants move into her property June 2014, paying £700 pcm – yet she received no rent until January 2015. Although rent payments were received from January 2015, they were sporadic. Upon the landlord chasing the agent for the rent arrears, she received a range of excuses; from the Manager being unavailable, to it being a clerical error, to being advised incorrectly that the rent was indeed paid. The landlord soon discovered that the agents offices had actually closed down, and the entire managed portfolio acquired by another agent – of which they also appear unregulated.
The landlord attended the property to speak directly with her tenants, who told her that the rent has been paid regularly every month. This rent has not been passed on to the landlord and she is now owed over £5000.
The second agent has said that due to the landlord providing the first agent with notice at the time of their acquisition, the deposit was not transferred over to them nor can they account for, or advise, as to the location of the deposit or what name the first agents DPS account was in – which is quite unheard of. Not only is the landlord owed over £5,000 it looks like the whereabouts of the tenant’s £800 deposit is also unknown.
As both agents are unregulated, neither the landlord nor the tenant are covered by clients’ money protection. The landlord has instructed legal proceedings and is determined not to let this particular individual get away with treating her so badly.
Moginie James are regulated by ARLA ( www.arla.co.uk ) – the Association of Residential Letting Agents who are our industry’s governing body. There are stringent membership conditions of ARLA – including the requirement to have clients’ money protection in place, professional indemnity insurance and consumers have the right of redress to the Property Ombudsman ( www.tpos.co.uk ). There is a Code of Practice which is mandatory for all TPO Members, and we also adhere to the ARLA Code of Practice. We wholeheartedly support the new registration and licencing regulations ( www.rentsmartwales.co.uk ) as these will help to improve standards in the private rented sector, but not only that, I hope they will force the closure of many of the rogue agents who are still out there operating freely!
Please be aware that there are still many rogue agents who operate, our word to the wise is to ensure you only use an agent who is regulated by one of the professional bodies such as ARLA, NAEA, NALS, or RICS.