“Knowledge is what's going to get people through the Tenant Fee Ban,” says ARLA’s Regional Representative in Kent.
David Votta of Votta Lettings & Property Management believes it will be imperative for letting agents to educate themselves before the ban comes into effect. “Many agents haven’t been trained to an accredited standard, so they won't know the basic principles of the law. If a tenant or landlord asks me what certain clauses mean, I can answer that - and not only answer it, but give a comprehensive response with an example, whereas a lot of agencies don't value knowledge, it's all about the turnover of the income as opposed to customer service,” he says. “If your focus is taken away from people and put on money instead, then you’ve already lost! That’s just my humble opinion.”
ARLA does “fight hard” to protect agents and, in turn, landlords and their tenants, says Votta, but agents, too, need to ensure they’re operating within the framework of both new and existing legislation. “I think that legislation is a great thing, because why should people be allowed to rent property to a terrible standard? We need to wipe that out and encourage more professional agents to flourish. However, that legislation actually needs enforcement as there’s hundreds of pieces of it and it mostly goes unchecked and unchallenged and some of it hasn’t been very well thought through.”
He’s confident that the great value he provides landlords will ensure he achieves the expected level of growth for his business. This includes both landlords and tenants being able to get in touch with him, day or night, and vital industry updates that will affect his clients. “I'm not going out there prospecting or hunting for clients or even trying to track down all my old clients from other firms at this stage. They've all come and found me, as have new customers because of years of doing right by people and a little help from my five-star Google reviews,” he says.
“We select a better standard of homes, which gives us less property management to contend with and means that we can focus more on delivering exceptional service instead of paying staff peanuts and working them from a call centre where many don’t feel valued which causes staff turnover - my staff don’t leave me because my passion for people and also customers can see that in the way I work,” says Votta.
“I'm not worried about the Tenant Fee Ban in relation to my business model so much, but feel for all my fellow agents out there that work hard to do a great job and are looking at job losses and cutbacks with increased workloads due to the ban,” says Votta.
“I’m also concerned that tenants will have to pay increased rents as a natural consequence, because the ban is will have the reverse effect of its intended purpose,” says Votta. “That being said, I'll continue providing the service that not a lot of agents can offer, and I'll take over from others that are providing a poor service to their landlords and tenants.”