Is Your Letting Agent Regulated? Does it Matter?
Every few weeks a story hits the press of a letting agent going bust and clients losing significant sums of money. Occasionally, a criminally inclined agent will blatantly pocket money which belongs to landlords or tenants. Thankfully such occurrences are rare, but nevertheless they do happen. What can you do to make sure this doesn't happen to you?
It's important to be aware that not all letting agents are regulated. Since Simply Let was launched in 2004 there have been many regulatory initiatives seeking to control the practical aspects of letting a property, such as gas and electrical safety, fire safety and registration of landlords. The actual business of managing property on behalf of landlords, however, is currently unregulated in Scotland meaning that anyone can set up in business letting and managing properties without any detailed awareness of these regulations, without any requirement to adhere to a code of conduct or have insurance cover in place, and with no arrangements in place to safeguard clients' money.
Simply Let, a family owned business, is regulated by both RICS and ARLA. We have also chosen to seek, and have been awarded, accreditation by Landlord Accreditation Scotland.
Simply Let is the only specialist letting agent in Inverness established as a professional firm of Chartered Surveyors. As Chartered Surveyors we are regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and must follow their strict rules of conduct. We are audited periodically by an independent accountancy firm who check that our client accounting procedures, professional insurance, agency agreements and management processes are all correct and in order to ensure that our landlord clients are fully protected and that tenants are treated fairly.
Although RICS provides comprehensive security and investment protection for our clients, we are also licensed by the ARLA Propertymark, the UK’s foremost professional body for letting agents. This additional tier of regulation provides added assurance for our clients, and also enables our staff to partake in ARLA’s rigorous training programmes, ensuring that we are all qualified to let and manage our clients' investment properties and offer all necessary safeguards to tenants. Our director, John Gell, is a chartered surveyor and all of our team are Licensed Members of ARLA (MARLA) qualified to Level 6 Technical Award in Residential Letting and Property Management.
Our Landlord Accreditation Scotland accreditation requires us to use only "best practice" management practices far beyond those required by law.
From January 2018 all letting agents in Scotland will require to have at least one member of staff in each office qualified to Scottish Government standards and to carry client money protection and professional indemnity insurance. Many will be fulfilling those requirements solely in response to the Scottish Government's new requirements in order to be able to continue in business. At Simply Let however we have voluntarily chosen to be regulated and carry insurance and client money protection right from our establishment back in 2004 because we believed that essential for any firm claiming to operate to professional standards.
At Simply Let we value regulatory requirements which set high demands because they help to underwrite the high standards to which we aspire.
The RICS Rules of Conduct govern -
- Professional Behaviour - A firm shall act at all times with integrity and avoid conflicts of interest and actions or situations which are inconsistent with its professional obligations.
- Competence - A firm shall carry out its professional work with due skill, care and diligence and with proper regard for the technical standards expected of it.
- Service - A firm shall carry out its professional work with expedition and with proper regard for the standards of service and customer care expected of it.
- Training and Continuing Professional Development - A firm shall have in place the necessary procedures to ensure that all its staff are properly trained and competent to do their work.
- Complaints Handling - A firm shall operate a complaints handling procedure and maintain a complaints log. The complaints handling procedure must include a redress mechanism that is approved by the Regulatory Board.
- Clients' Money - A firm shall preserve the security of clients'money entrusted to its care in the course of its practice or business.
- Professsional Indemnity Insurance - A firm shall ensure that all previous and current professional work is covered by adequate and apporpriate professional indemnity insuance cover which meets standards approved by the Regulatory Board.