Local letting agent Lucy Dawe of Lawton & Dawe was incensed to see an unbalanced and biased view of letting agents on the ITV programme, This Morning, on 2nd May. The piece portrayed agents charging tenants “unpredictable and frankly unpalatable” hidden charges. There was no representative of the letting agency profession or trade body featuring to give a balanced and more realistic perspective, only a case study of a tenant who was voicing her own view based on one experience.
“I was fuming,” said Lucy, “to see the whole profession tarnished with the same brush. As an ARLA-registered* letting agent, I adhere to strict guidelines and a code of conduct, and I know most of the profession does too. Of course, like any sector, there are less than ethical agents out there but to not give us an opportunity to put the other side across is shoddy and lazy journalism in my view.”
Lucy Dawe, our MD, certainly knows how to do something different for her birthday. This year she will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest freestanding mountain in the world and the highest on the African continent at 5,896m. She will be doing this in September to raise funds for two charities: Spinal Research and Worthing Churches Homeless Projects (WCHP).
The exciting trek takes the Machame route, camping and taking in the splendour of the surroundings and clear night skies. The terrain changes as the mountain is climbed - from thick forest, moorland and scree en route to the highest point of the crater, Uhuru Peak. This is a challenging trek at altitude and one which will give Lucy memories and challenges that will last a lifetime.
The news that Scotland has made it illegal for agents to charge fees to tenants has sent shock waves throughout our industry. This move has rendered letting agents almost unable to cover the cost of offering a professional service to clients.
The argument of hidden fees is one we fully agree is underhand practice which we do not condone, but not allowing an agent to charge for administration costs will undoubtedly force them to cut corners in these areas. It will put landlords at risk of unsuitable tenants as agents won’t be able to fully reference an applicant, or they’ll try to do this 'in house' to avoid the fees associated with using a reputable referencing company.
“Advertise your property online and it’ll be cheaper than going through a letting agent.”
Adverts like this are slowly creeping into the media and no doubt sound very appealing to some landlords - but cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean better.
The letting industry is in the spotlight at the moment as ARLA-regulated agents are pushing hard to get the industry regulated. We’re trying to rid the industry of cowboy agents who have no qualifications in lettings or property management and lack the experience needed to guide landlords and tenants through the process.
The decline in home ownership, especially for first time buyers is giving way to opinion shifting in favour of long term renting. This is not just for single professionals but for young families too.
The freedom that renting gives to tenants is an attractive option for those who might want to test out new areas to live. It also gives tenants the chance to rent a property that they might not necessarily purchase, whether that be a period cottage or a modern penthouse, the varied choice is encouraging new people into the private rented sector.