The raft of legislation changes impacting the lettings industry this year - from the now-compulsory Client Money Protection and redress schemes to the Tenant Fees Act coming into effect on 1st June - will be an opportunity for letting agents offering high levels of customer service to attract new landlords, says the director of a specialist letting agency in Southwest England.
“The long overdue introduction of new legislation has the intention of removing rouge agents from the industry,” says Martin West, Director of mlettings in Swindon and Cirencester. “All landlords should check the credentials of their managing agent to ensure they comply with the law.”
He says that the private rented sector is moving closer to being regulated and becoming a professional industry. “I firmly believe that those agents who have not prepared for these changes over the past 18 months will struggle. The next 18 months is going to be a challenging arena to operate in for those agencies who haven’t prepared.”
West says he’s seen an increase in the number of landlords approaching his agency recently and believes that this trend is likely to continue. “We have been approached by landlords who have had a poor experience with their current managing agent and landlords are coming to us because they've heard that we offer a different experience. Many landlords have other business interests – they are entrepreneurs being pulled in different directions, so they rely on us to ensure they are following legal guidelines and they also expect us to look after their interests.”
The increasingly complex legislation introduced over the past two years has also made it more difficult for landlords to self-manage. West believes this will result in more independent landlords turning to compliance-savvy letting agents to manage their properties. “It's a very complex world for landlords and compliance has got to be central to what we offer,” he says.
“We are a member of ARLA Propertymark, which means we offer the highest industry standards. When we give advice to landlords, they know we have access to specialist legal teams that can give us specific advice. We don't go into a situation hoping that we are right, we go into a situation knowing the advice we are giving is to the letter of the law and our landlords have a sense of security with that. Landlords need to have reassurance that we are knowledgeable, up to date with current legislation and that we have got them covered."