"The Only Way is Ethics"

"The Only Way is Ethics"

This is a twist on The Only Way Is Essex or TOWIE as it has affectionately become known.

At Martin & Co Chelmsford, for us TOWIE means The Only Way Is Ethics

The lettings industry is quite rightly coming under scrutiny from Government agencies, Local Authorities and homeless charities such as Shelter. The Private Rented Sector as it’s called in the UK has grown exponentially in the last 10 years and with so many people renting as both a lifestyle and forced choice, it is clear that Government intervention is required to provide tenants and landlords with the peace of mind they deserve when using estate and letting agents.

The recently published English Housing Survey 2011 to 2012 undertaken by the Government’s Department for Communities and Local Government, shows there are now 3.8 million households privately rented. This is 17.27% of total households in England – nearly one fifth!  No wonder would be investors are pouring into the Buy to Let market with average gross yields of 5.5% per annum but they together with existing landlords need to be very careful who they do business with.

As happens with any growth industry, there's been a huge influx of neer do wells who think lettings is an easy route to a quick buck. And while bonkers to allow it to happen, such people can very quickly and easily build up a fund of their clients’ money running into hundreds of thousands of pounds. Just as easy for them to disappear with this and it seems to be happening almost daily.

Many agents have gone "bust" this year with alleged doubts over the whereabouts of their client monies. As landlords it’s not just your rent that you have at risk; tenant deposits should of course be fully protected and if they're not then it’s down to the landlord to make them good.

So if you use an agent what can you do to protect yourself? Actually quite a lot, the agents committed to their profession will abide by the ethical standards set out by whichever professional standards body they have chosen to regulate them. There are a few such bodies which I will go into more detail about in a later column but a good starting point is to look out for an agent displaying the ARLA Licensed logo. ARLA is a mark denoting firms that protect landlords and tenants money through client money protection schemes, colloquially known as CMP. Agents who members of ARLA  have common minimum standards requiring their firms/members to have professional indemnity insurance, defined standards relating to clients’ money and a procedure offering independent redress for consumers through an ombudsman scheme.

For further information on Buy to Let, buying or selling in Chelmsford please contact me or my team on 01245330500.