The Rogue Agent Risk

The Rogue Agent Risk

New government legislation aims to increase protection for landlords and tenants from rogue agents. The amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill hopes to bring more letting agents in line.

All lettings agents must soon be registered with a redress scheme approved by the government. The scheme provides landlord advice, compensatory awards and a new complaints procedure. Most agents are perfectly credible; it is the rogue agents who are giving the industry a bad name. Any protection offered to landlords against rogue agents is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.

Rogue agents and bad practice

Rogue lettings agents engage in some extremely unprofessional practices and have a tendency to completely overcharge landlords, creating huge problems for tenants. It is crucial that landlords do their research before entering into any kind of business with a lettings agent. Despite the legal changes, no formal schemes will be in place for a few months, so it is worth checking that letting agents are members of an ombudsman scheme. When the legislation comes into force all reputable lettings agents should commit to a scheme.

Landlords should beware of any agents who aren’t members of a redress scheme. Doing business with an unregulated agent means that landlords will not be able to seek redress. It is also advisable to seek landlord advice on money protection and indemnity insurance, as the latest legislation is not currently far reaching enough to cover these areas in the lettings industry.

Landlords beware

It may be some time before the industry is regulated to an extent that it will protect landlords completely from rogue agents. Until then, it is important that landlords protect themselves from unscrupulous lettings agents. Seeking landlord advice from colleagues and recommendations from those in the industry with experience of lettings agents may help you avoid problems.

It is worth reiterating that landlords should always find out whether an agent has voluntarily chosen to become a member of a regulatory scheme or if they are completely self-regulated. It usually becomes apparent that a lettings agent is a safe bet when you make some enquiries about their credibility and professional commitment. If they offer direct answers and show their professional affiliations and a high degree of transparency, then this is usually a good sign. Most lettings agents are true professionals, landlords just need to be aware of the ones who slip through the net.

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