Could Rightmove, Zoopla etc. clean up the lettings industry?

by Mark Alexander

17:20 PM, 13th February 2012
About 7 years ago

Could Rightmove, Zoopla etc. clean up the lettings industry?

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Could Rightmove, Zoopla etc. clean up the lettings industry?

It has just occurred to me that most of the lettings agents that don’t carry professional indemnity insurance or protect deposits still need to advertise on the major property portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla, PrimeLocation, Globrix etc.

There have been plenty of media articles recently calling for the Compulsory Licensing of Letting Agents and stories of landlords and tenants who have been left out of pocket due to negligence or dishonesty of their appointed agents.

We know that some agents are a safer bet than others, for example, ARLA members have to pass exams and have client money bonding and professional indemnity insurance. If an ARLA member is negligent or dishonest, both landlords and tenants have recourse to insurance backed arrangements to recover their losses. However, most people who let out their properties don’t even realise that Letting Agents are not regulated by statute. Further, most rental property owners have no idea that their money isn’t always safe or that they can’t delegate their legal responsibilities as landlords. Is it right that such massive amounts of money should be allowed to pass through the hands of intermediaries with no professional qualifications, insurance or licensing?

Why don’t the UK’s major property portals simply refuse to take advertising from ‘risky agents’? Does the extra advertising revenue really justify the reputational risk?

Do you think the leading property portals such reconsider their responsibilities? They must surely be in a position to request some very basic information to confirm minimal credentials of agents they accept advertising from before they open an account for them.

What information would you suggest the property portals should ask agents for prior to setting them up with an advertising account?

My list is very short, as follows:-

  1. Data Protection licence
  2. Professional Indemnity Insurance
  3. Professional Qualifications
  4. Client Money Bonding
  5. Professional or trade body affiliations

Maybe they don’t ask the questions because if they do they carry some sort of vicarious liability? I hope not though because that just wouldn’t seem right.



Comments

20:40 PM, 13th February 2012
About 7 years ago

This could very quickly lead to landlords not being able to advertise on Right Move without paying for a full agent service, is what you are after?

However if Right Move was to mark clearly on each listing if the agent was regulated or not, as well as saying if the property is going to be managed by the agent or the landlord.

Mark Alexander

20:51 PM, 13th February 2012
About 7 years ago

Landlords can't advertise directly on Rightmove now Ian, no change there. 

I love your suggestion though, let's hope the portals are watching. The first  of the larger portals to do this could steal massive market share and put themselves up-market of their competitors very quickly.

23:47 PM, 13th February 2012
About 7 years ago

You don't need a high st based LA.
What is wrong with using an online LA like upad or discount lettings and others.
They also offer a full service at considerably cheaper costs
I successfully let my properties without using a 'normal' LA and have saved myself a fortune.
These online LA can advertise and do, on rightmove and other major web portals.
Cost on upad £50 at the moment; tenant referral only
Cost of normal LA £450.00 at 50% of the monthly rent.
Rightmove don't allow the listing to indicate whether a LL will be managing the property themselves; so I put that info in the body of the property info at the top heading.
This attracts prospective tenants as no or low fees.

0:01 AM, 14th February 2012
About 7 years ago

I think your points are extremely good ones and certainly a conversation needs to be had with these sites.
After all would they wish to be assoiciated with criminal LA.
Wouldn't that discredit their site and consequent share value?
I am sure they would wish to behave as you suggest OR would the ad income loss be too risky for them to be to be upfront and honest about the LA that advertise on their site, remembering that mud sticks!
As 95% of LA business comes via these web portals, what better way to force these LA to behave responsibly, adopting your suggested list than to impress upon the web site that they should ONLY take on LA who have complied with certain requirements.
There should be advice on the start page of these sites warning tenants and LL about whether a LA has complied with certain requirements and if not then you trade with them at your own risk.
That should stirup a few hornets!!?
I think there is also the general point you are alluding to in that there is a level of ignorance amongst LL and tenants which means they get caught out by criminal LA.
Something needs to be done to protect them from such ignorance.
Your suggestions would seem to fit the bill.

12:21 PM, 15th February 2012
About 7 years ago

The portals such as rightmove are tightening up on rogue agents.

As a new online letting agent we had to provide details of our professional body membership to be able to use Rightmove (in our case the Property Ombudsman Scheme).  This scheme in turn requires professional indemnity insurance and proper client money accounts and systems.

http://www.nested.co.uk, find a tenant for £59.

20:23 PM, 15th February 2012
About 7 years ago

This is very important info; but I don't believe it is so stated on trhe web portals' web sites.
Are these requirements actually enforced for all new and existing LA on the site.
Also it should attract business to you as you do comply with the efficacious rightmove requirements.
If so then great.
However why doesn't rightmove advertise their due diligence they are enforcing.
Surely that is something to be proud of!

Mark Alexander

20:38 PM, 15th February 2012
About 7 years ago

Perhaps because they might be seen to be promoting ARLA at the exclusion of all others? To my knowledge, NALS, SafeAgent and the Property Ombudsman don't insist on client money bonding, just PI insurance and their Codes of Practice. It's the little things that make the big difference, if you disagree, try sleeping with a mosquito in your bedroom LOL

10:03 AM, 16th February 2012
About 7 years ago

Make your own list and let rightmove etc. link in to it - and within there of course a link out to 118 - or is that what you meant? would be a nice 'friendly' solution for all concerned I would imagine.


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