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'Clumsy' new lettings rules may lead to agents quitting - claim

Ian Wilson, chief executive of The Property Franchise Group, says new rules for regulating the lettings sector will probably be clumsily executed - and so may mean agents will quit the industry.

“The government’s announcements at the weekend, about regulation of the industry and compulsory client money protection, although welcome and well-meaning will probably be clumsily executed. It’s going to be a lot of work to stay in the lettings game, so potential sellers should think hard about their best option” he says.

Wilson’s comments came as news that Martin & Co - one of TPFG’s best known brands - had acquired three independent agencies in just the past seven days.

In Runcorn, Stephen Hember of Martin & Co in Widnes and Denise Griffiths of the company’s Liverpool South fanchise purchased TCG Residential. The seller of the independent wanted a quick sale for an unusual reason - to go around the world on his motorbike. 

Meanwhile David Nicholson of the Crawley office of Martin & Co fulfilled a long-held desire to open for business at Horsham in Sussex. Through the purchase of GL & Co Estate Agents, Nicholson has taken on seven staff and premises in the commuter town’s main shopping centre.

In Grantham, Philip Connor purchased Smart Lettings;the acquisition takes the Martin & Co portfolio in the town to more than 300 units.

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    The industry will end up being dominated by the big players and corporates. Service standards will drop. Choice will reduce and costs increase. Great move for the consumer eh?

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    Disagree. Unqualified unregulated agents will drop away, at last. Competent regulated agents will acquire their stock, through acquisition or just winning the business. How does getting rid of the non-quals cause a drop in standards? There’ll be more business for the responsible agents.

    And getting qualified isn’t hard if you know what you’re doing. And if you don’t, you shouldn’t be responsible for people’s safety and assets.

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    Having letters after your name is not a guarantee of professionalism or good service.

     
  • Angus Shield

    Having previously been a Partner in a large independent with 5 offices for 14 years, retired 6 years ago to start a Block Management company, then my ex-partners sold to a Corporate and the portfolio rapidly dispersed to local independents.
    I reformed some ex-employees and opened an independent Letting Agent (after a respectful 2-year period) and won back a large share of my old clients.
    I have nothing against a well-run and 'personable' Corporate at Branch level, however to me nothing beats a 'Local Knowledge' and staff that remember both the Client and the history of the property. The ‘independent’ model is naturally far more in touch with its portfolio than something larger that depends upon ‘centralisation’ of resources often not in the same locality; I recognise there are exceptions to this.
    With both The Guild of Letting & Management (GLM), and Training for Professionals (TFP) extensive accessible resources, qualification should be relatively straightforward.
    Any Agent without Client Money Protection up until now should simply not be allowed as it's totally irresponsible.

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    Corporates often treat landlords as numbers rather than individuals. We’ve just been passed a letter from a landlord, received from her corporate agent stating, and I quote “Dear Landlord, as your property is now in excess of two months in arrears with the rent we suggest you now seek legal advice”. WOW!!!! I have this laminated and I take it out on valuations. As a rule corporates do not have the personal service offered by independents.

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    I used to have my own training company for RLS agents and most although keen and willing would not pass the basic ARLA entry level exam without serious study. Formal quals will strengthen the industry enormously.

    P.S. - Ian Wilson: lettings is not a "game".

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