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Martin & Co boss calls for industry fighting fund

Martin & Co boss calls for industry fighting fund

Over half of Martin & Co’s lettings franchise group is now trading in estate agency, with more to follow.

Managing director Ian Wilson – who today is calling for the lettings industry to set up a fighting fund to challenge Shelter –  said that so far, just under 1,000 sales have been agreed and £500,000 worth of fees have been banked. The sales proposition was launched a year ago.

Wilson said: “Being a letting specialist is great when the estate agents stuck to their knitting, or the market favoured lettings.

“But we really do think that a modern property business has to be engaged in the buying, selling and letting of investment properties.”

Wilson said: “We will pass 30,000 managed properties in June, and if we did not offer sales I’d be seriously concerned about the potential to lose 10 or 15% of that portfolio over the next few years as clients test the option of selling.”

He said he thought that competitors Belvoir and Leaders, which have both stuck to lettings, must be concerned.

Wilson also called on the industry to establish a legal fighting fund to challenge Shelter’s moves to get letting agency fees to tenants banned.

Wilson pledged to put £1,000 into a fund, if 50 other businesses supported it.

He said: “Shelter is a charity and it benefits from tax advantages because of its charitable status. It has to expend its efforts on its charitable aims and if it strays into other political activities [such as helping people avoid paying letting agents fees], then it should be reported to the Charity Commissioner and tied up in legal action through the courts.

“As an industry we have the cash to pay for the best and most aggressive commercial lawyers to take Shelter on, but we have to act collectively. Tenant fees are probably worth £200m to us all, maybe much more, so it’s a fight worth having.”

For the full story, see today’s interview in the blog section. It makes for interesting and thought-provoking reading.