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​The bare necessities of a letting agent

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Forget about your worries and your strife when it comes to letting your property and instruct a letting agent; but make sure you look for the bare necessities first! These are five things that all letting agents must have in place, which goes some way to safeguard the best interests of their landlords and tenants:

Professional indemnity & public liability insurance

Although no business will set out with the intention of making errors, letting agents are still human (despite what some may believe!). Having the right insurances in place will ensure that landlords and tenants aren’t out of pocket in the rare event of an error, poor advice or even an injury caused by negligence.

Membership to a property redress scheme

All letting agents must be a member of one of two government approved redress schemes: The Property Ombudsman (TPO) or the Property Redress Scheme (PRS). There used to be a third scheme (Ombudsman Services: Property) but this closed down in August 2018. These redress schemes can resolve disputes between letting agents and their customers, meaning both landlords and tenants can complain to the provider. Agents must display which redress scheme they are a member of on their website and in their offices.

CMP (Client Money Protection) insurance

From 1st April 2019 having Client Money Protection insurance will be a requirement for all letting agents. This is a form of insurance that protects the landlord should the letting agent steal or misappropriate their clients’ money. It will also provide compensation for landlords if the letting agent goes bust and they are owed money. To be able to take out the insurance a letting agent must hold client monies in a ring-fenced bank account and abide by the scheme’s rules.

ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) registration

As letting agents hold large amounts of personal data, they need to register with the ICO and prepare a privacy policy outlining why they are entitled to use this personal information. GDPR rules from 2018 also shored up how this data was saved, shared and stored.

Transparency of fees

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 it became a legal requirement for letting agents to publicise details of their fees (both to landlords and tenants) on their websites and in their offices. The intention was for full transparency on fees, which would allow landlords to shop around; although some letting agents still seem to keep quiet on their fees until they get a foot in your door.

Written by Clive Janes, CRJ Lettings; 01243 624599, clive@crjlettings.co.uk

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