The decision to manage your own properties or to use a letting agent has been heavily contested over the years, with landlords weighing up the benefits in terms of cost and efficiency, especially those who are struggling to cope with larger property portfolio.
A minister at the Department of Communities and Local Government has recently urged that more be done about the condition of housing in the rental market. He said: ”All homes should be of a reasonable standard and all tenants should have a safe place to live”. Many landlords do not keep their properties to a high standard when they manage their own properties, whilst a letting agent would ensure that properties are frequently checked and any issues are efficiently dealt with.
With the Government urging local authorities to use their powers to eliminate any poor quality or unsafe living environments, letting agents are also playing a larger part in dealing with any issues that may arise. In 2016 UK’s Property Ombudsman resolved a record number of difficult complaints, with awards of £1.2m being awarded in a record 51% of cases.
The Property Ombudsman scheme is a free, independent service which is aimed at protecting consumers against unfair practices. The number of letting agents which have joined the redress scheme increased by 7% last year, highlighting how letting agents are going above and beyond to improve their service to consumers.
In addition to this, the proportion of complaints from tenants and landlords were marginally similar at 51% and 45% with the number of formal complaints solved up by 1.6%. Awards varied between £531 and £21,972.
In terms of location, the South recorded the largest volume of complaints with 25% in Greater London and 23% in the South East, whilst complaints in the North West were low at 10%. According to the report, the four most common causes of complaints came in the form of management, communication, record keeping and referencing.
The lettings market in the country has revised its codes of practice approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute to clarify many of the issues that landlords and tenants have had. These changes have proved to be significant in improving the level of service that letting agents provide, resulting in a large increase in complex queries being resolved.
38,017 offices are now following the changes to the codes of practice and according to property watchdog Katrine Sporle, who claims that ”the vast majority of consumers are happy with their agent”. Many letting agents across the country are committed to providing a better service by clarifying any misleading information given in the past.
As the Private Rented Sector grows, the government is implementing changes to improve the quality of rental housing. Landlords are feeling the pressure of keeping their property up to a reasonable standard whilst many more about turning to letting agents for help.