Jane Ingram Blog
Thursday 5th July 2012
Jane Ingram is the new President of ARLA, and is head of lettings at Savills. The busy mother of a two-year-old son says she will juggle her presidential year with the help of a ‘superb’ team at Savills.
Q. How, when and why did you get into lettings?
A. I was introduced to Christine Harding at Chancellors who offered me a lettings negotiator job on the spot. That was 1991.
I know it is a cliché, but I have always been interested in property and chose lettings as sales was in the doldrums in the early ’90s. It felt like the start of the lettings revolution as a result of the change in legislation and the creation of the AST, which offered greater protection to landlords, giving them the certainty of getting their property back if they let it to an individual.
Q. What is your current role, and what does it involve?
A. I am the head of lettings at Savills and I am responsible for 35 offices, eight key specialist departments and 170 staff in London and the country. My role involves the strategic development of the business.
Q. When did you join ARLA?
A. I have always worked for an ARLA member firm and am now a licensed member, so have been a member for 22 years in total.
Q. What is your ‘action plan’ for your presidential year?
A. I wish to continue the good work that Tim Hyatt has started as part of his three-year presidential strategy that I now see as a rolling strategy with each presidential team. Tim focused on improving communication between ARLA and the members, and I think it’s important to continue with this.
Q. Your predecessor Tim Hyatt made some interesting comments about both SAFEagent and the ARLA Licensed Agent scheme. What is your stance on both these issues?
A. I am keen to make licensing more easily understood by the consumer and by the membership. I believe that we need to get the message across that using an ARLA licensed agent means that the consumer has client money protection. This is the key issue. We know we have work to do with making the licensing better understood by the consumer. We continue to have meaningful dialogue with SAFEagent. Only last week we became aware of an agent who appears to have failed to pass rents over to landlords and where deposits may have been misappropriated
Q. How do you view the reorganisation at Arbon House [which will take away the emphasis on the umbrella body NFoPP, and give both ARLA and the NAEA their own managing directors]?
A. I think that it is very positive as it means that each area of the association will have a dedicated champion. I look forward to working closely with Ian Potter for ARLA.
Q. Where do you stand on licensing of letting and managing agents?
A. As mentioned above, it would be good if we are able to make licensing more easily understood to our membership and the consumer. ARLA has always called for formal regulation of the lettings industry, and that requires to be meaningful. What is soul-destroying is some of the horror stories which exist both in property managed by an agent and landlords themselves. Like anything else, this tends to be a minority, but it is what gets the headlines.
Q. What do you think ARLA stands for? Do you feel it gets its message across to the public?
A. I think that ARLA is the gold standard for the regulation of letting agents and I would like this to be promoted more by ARLA and our members. I think that the reorganisation at Arbon House will assist this, but at the end of the day it is agents who have the greatest consumer contact, and if they do not or cannot promote the benefits it is a slow process. Although we were delighted to come out top in a recent independent survey of organisational awareness amongst landlords, we cannot afford to be complacent. That merely shows how far we have to go.
Q. Do you think that rents are in danger of becoming unaffordable?
A. Different parts of the country operate in different markets. Nationally there is a shortage of stock which unless addressed will put pressure on tenants’ purse-strings. In London and the South-East we are currently experiencing an increase in stock and this will mean a softening in rents. However, this is likely to be short term as the trend is set for rents to increase. It is after all a free market, and supply and demand controls prices. However, there is the affordability factor and the prudent agent will be exercising due diligence when advising their landlord.
Q. Where do you see the private rented sector going?
A. Currently the number of private rented households in the UK stands at 4.8m and we expect the number to rise by a further 1.1m (23%) over the next five years (Savills Research).
Q. Wearing your Savills’ hat, can you comment on the Evening Standard’s move to set up a private landlords property portal?
A. ‘List your own’ services have been around for many years now, all of which have gained very little traction due to the value that a good agent can add to the lettings process, so I do not see this as a game changer.
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