Clampdown On Rogue Agents in Shropshire

One of Shropshire’s most influential property experts has demanded tougher rules to protect tenants against rogue lettings agents after council leaders warned of growing instances of ‘extortionate’ fees and underhand practices in the private rented sector.

Dawn Clarke, Head of Lettings and Property Management at Nock Deighton, backed calls for statutory regulation of lettings agents after the Local Government Association told a Select Committee of MPs earlier this month that unscrupulous practices, such as some agents charging non-refundable administration fees of £500 for simply carrying out a reference check, were on the rise.

“With the number of people in England renting increasing by more than a million in just six years, it’s understandable that some rogue agents may try and cash in on this growing demand,“ Dawn, who is also the Shropshire and Staffordshire Regional Representative of industry body the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), commented. “Currently, anyone can set up as a lettings agent without having to adhere to any code of practice, regardless of their training or experience. Introducing statutory regulation, and strict professional standards for the lettings industry to abide by, will go a long way to providing a safeguard for both tenants and landlords.

“With such a strong demand in the private rented sector, many tenants may feel pressurised to pay these high fees just to secure a property that they really want, but even in the absence of statutory regulation, help is on hand to ensure tenants don’t fall victim to a rogue agent’s underhand tactics.”

Dawn advises tenants should speak with reputable organisations such as ARLA, Citizens Advice, and the Property Ombudsman, if they have any concerns with their agent, while any exorbitant fees could be checked against Consumer Protection Regulations or Consumer Contracts Regulations.

“Conducting thorough research before entering an agreement with a lettings agent is also crucial. Always make sure an agent is accredited by a trusted, professional organisation such as ARLA – many bogus agents will have flashy branding with non-accredited third-party logos – and it’s a good idea to be wary of any agent who won’t let you view an entire property, even if they use excuses such as ‘someone else is currently occupying this room’. Finally, tenants should be suspicious of being asked to pay via money transfer agents, which can be hard to track. It’s best to make payments in person and ensure receipts or written confirmations are received,” Dawn concluded.

There are currently around 11,000 firms involved in the lettings industry in the UK, while the Government’s English Housing Survey revealed there were 3.62 million private rented households in England last year.

Contacting us

Find your local office

Our Offices
Homeowner looking to sell?

Your FREE Seller’s Guide