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Interview of Rebecca Johnston
Written by the Letting Agent Today team
Rebecca Johnston, TDS Custodial Managing Director

Who are you?

Rebecca Johnston

What does it say on your business card?

Managing Director (TDS Custodial)

What is TDS Custodial?

TDS Custodial is a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme where the landlord or agent passes the deposit to the scheme to hold for the duration of the tenancy.

How long have you been trading?

TDS Custodial launched on 1st April 2016 after winning a government contract the previous year. The other side of the business, TDS Insured, has been trading since 2003, and initially operated a pilot for a voluntary deposit scheme before it became a legal requirement for landlords and agents to protect tenants’ deposits in 2007.

How do you help letting agents and landlords?

We help landlords and agents comply with their legal obligations in terms of deposit protection, and our aim is to make the process as easy and quick as possible. We also offer advice and training for aspects of the tenancy that relate to the deposit, such as clauses landlords and agents should include in their tenancy agreement, what makes a good inventory, and how to avoid disputes over deposit deductions.

What are the benefits of a custodial scheme over an insured one?

We get asked this question a lot, and have also posed the question to landlords and agents. As well as my role at TDS Custodial, I’m the Director of Business Development for TDS, so see both custodial and insured sides of the market. The number one response we hear is that custodial schemes are free, but there are other benefits of using TDS’ Custodial scheme. We offer some unique functionality in our online deposit management system to make Custodial deposit protection flexible, easier and more secure  than ever before.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing letting agents at the moment?

The world is becoming increasingly fast-paced, online, with an overload of information and expectations, and consumers expect instant results. I think the challenge will be to meet the demands and expectations of the consumer (both landlords using an agent and tenants) in this emerging landscape, without scrimping on quality and due diligence.  

What is your greatest achievement in your current role and what made it so special?

I’d like to think it is yet to come! I have worked in deposit protection for over five years (I was Director of Operations at SafeDeposits Scotland, a Custodial-only scheme, for four years), but am only 12 months into my TDS Custodial role. Increasing our customer base and building long-lasting working relationships, while maintaining outstanding service and a commitment to a deposit management system that works for our customers is my goal. I’ll be proud to achieve that.

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

First and foremost, knowing that our customers and TDS colleagues are engaged and happy with their choice of TDS as supplier or employer. Second, TDS as a company is quite open to change which means that we are relatively free to innovate and explore new ideas. Getting the first part right means that we can explore the second!

In your view, has the Brexit vote affected the property market?

In my opinion, it is not the vote but how Brexit will play out which is the material factor, and that is yet to come.

What is your property prediction for the remainder of 2017?

I think the market will become increasingly consumer-led. Consumers are being increasingly active in their choice of products, with peer-to-peer lending, consumer and supplier ratings, crowd-surfing and the sharing economy. The property market is relatively traditional compared with other sectors, with a long time between a person’s transactions, and I think there will be an increasing consumer-led movement, be that house buyers, landlords who use an agent, or of course, tenants.


House or apartment?

House

City or countryside?

Countryside – and if it’s by the sea then even better.

Modern and stylish or period and original?

Period and original blended with modern and stylish conveniences.

Rent or buy?

I have been a tenant, landlord and owner-occupier so have experienced property from all angles. I like DIY, so would find it frustrating to go back to a world where I couldn’t paint.

Kirstie Allsopp or Phil Spencer?

I don’t think I can separate the two – they come as a package, don’t they?

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