I have a new hero.
His name is Peter Bolton King and he works for the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
The RICS is calling on the Government to regulate lettings agents.
YES, there is justice after all.
A clampdown on practices is needed to prevent the private lettings sector turning into “the property industry’s Wild West” says the RICS.
Peter Bolton King, global residential director at the organisation, said: “A good lettings agent can be worth their weight in gold for both landlord and tenant.
“However, there are too many corrupt agents that do not belong to any professional body who are taking advantage of the current gap in regulation, putting customers at risk.
“What we would like to see is the Government taking direct action on this and introducing a single regulatory and redress system for both sales and lettings agents to make sure they are fully accountable.”
Yes, yes, yes.
In the three and a half years we have been privately renting houses, we have dealt with three landlords and three lettings agents.
The first landlord was declared bankrupt the month after we moved in. The lettings agent didn’t tell us. We dutifully paid our rent for a year and then I came home from work one day to find a letter from the county court which said “the house you are living in will be repossessed in four weeks.”
The letting agent hadn’t told us and when I called them to ask what was going on some daft child said :”If it’s any consolation, you are not the only people this has happened to, another tenant on our books has had the same thing.”
Bizarrely, that wasn’t much of a consolation for me or probably the other tenant either.
The second letting agent – the house we moved out of two months ago – did nothing about anything and just sat back and took the money – and my god you should have seen the list of fees and charges. It took me two months to get the plumbing sorted out, they didn’t return calls or emails, the three monthly checks that were meant to be done happened once in 24 months (curiously three months before we moved out, about the same time the landlord said he was going to let the house to a relative and wanted us out). They withheld three quarters of my deposit for disputed reasons and even charged us for releasing a reference to the new lettings agent.
An example of their complete disinterest and lethargy was that the To Let sign that was there when we moved in, was still there the day we moved out 25 months later – they couldn’t even be bothered to pick it up.
In contrast, the lettings agents we are currently with seem lovely – friendly, helpful and the To Let board was outside the property for about three days before they came and collected it. I live in hope they will be among the ones that are “worth their weight in gold”.
In the meantime, Mr Peter Bolton King and colleagues at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, I applaud you.