We followed up our recent webinar, Trust through transparency – building landlord and tenant confidence in the lettings industry, with a Q&A, inviting agents to ask our panel more about transparency, regulation and the future of our sector.
You can view the full webinar and Q&A for more, but here are the top 5 questions and answers from that session.
What are your top tips for agents to prepare for a more regulated market?
"Invest in your staff. Train them to get them to the level they will need to be at. We don’t know exactly what the new rules are going to look like, but there is going to be a mad rush [after the legislation is announced] where everyone is trying to check all the boxes – so start now."
Kate Gregory, Sales Director, Agent Rainmaker
What’s the biggest thing agents can do to boost consumer confidence before new regulations come in?
"Agents should also be looking at educating their landlords. Landlords want to be reassured that they are with an agent for the right reasons. We’ve seen that when you talk to your landlord clients and explain why you’re doing certain things, they begin to understand the depth of the work you’re doing. But so many agents don’t go into detail: they say, 'great news, you’ve got the rental arrears in!'"
Sally Lawson, Founder, Agent Rainmaker
Why should landlords work with letting agents?
"I’ve been helping landlords for 30 years, and the last two or three have been the most challenging for landlords as regards self-management. I think the biggest false economy [of self-management] is that they don’t put a price on their time. About 86% of landlords own between one and four properties, and many of them work full-time. Do they want to take a call from a tenant at five in the morning because the boiler has broken down? Self-management is not for the faint-hearted, and I’m sure all the letting agents on this webinar would agree with me."
Paul Shamplina, Founder of Landlord Action and star of Channel 5’s Evicted! Nightmare Tenants
What can trade bodies do to help agents with transparency and compliance?
"It’s all about education and reminding people where the standards are. We have a total of 170 pieces of [lettings industry] legislation in force right now. People struggle to retain all that information without reminders, and they can’t necessarily assimilate new pieces of legislation that come out when they’re busy doing their day-to-day jobs. One thing that membership bodies can do is collate all that for people. We can make sure that the information is given to people in bite-sized chunks."
Nathan Emerson, Chief Executive, Propertymark
What can agents who know of someone bending the rules do to assist with enforcement?
"If you want something done about it, really the only answer is to report it to us. Our website has a 'Contact us' section where you can report instances of non-compliance. And it can be done anonymously. I'd encourage anybody who comes across these things to report it and we will make sure that something is done."
James Munro, Senior Manager, National Trading Standards Estate and Lettings Agency Team
What more can we do to improve consumer confidence? How can we use technology more effectively to increase transparency? Why do landlords and lettings have a negative reputation, and what can we do to solve this? Get the answers to these questions and more in our free on-demand webinar and special report, Trust through transparency – building landlord and tenant confidence in the lettings industry.