In a ‘relatively immature market’ like the letting industry, guidance and nurturing is needed every step of the way to ensure the market develops in a mutually beneficial way for every party involved.
The Communities and Local Government Committee’s latest report outlines the apparent illicit and abusive practices of many ‘cowboy’ agents in the letting sector; the so-called ‘wild west’ of the property industry.
The report proposes putting regulation on the letting industry up to the level of that of estate agents. It also outlines the need for key organisations and individuals to come together and consider how data on the private rental sector can be more adequately shared and improved.
The report also concluded that, although the sector had grown significantly in the past decade, as a whole the letting industry does not offer what tenants are looking for and that clear guidelines for all parties need to be set so it can move forward.
It is clear that understandable and balanced sets of guidelines need to be put together for the different parties in the industry.
More regulation in the industry would mean that the dishonest agents who prey on unwitting tenants will be more easily separated from the rest; however, more regulation could also mean honest and responsible agents will have more costs, legislation and bureaucracy to deal with and could end up losing out financially.
What is also clear is that there appears to be only halfhearted attempts to address the issues in the industry in the open air.
The views of reputable letting agents, the majority of the Scottish market, are underrepresented in the current political and press landscape. For example, the forthcoming legislation requiring letting agents to provide a 30-page printed report for each new tenant shows how little agents are consulted on legislation that affects them.
The development of the TIP scheme, on receiving 80 responses for inclusion, only included five letting agents and five landlords – a severe lack of representation in regard to Scottish agents.
With influential bodies pushing for more regulation and controls but no recognised body or organisation representing letting agents in Scotland, many Scottish letting agents have argued they will find it hard to influence the direction of any legislation going forward.
Lettingweb are an organisation created by agents for agents. We have reputable agents’ interests at heart and we actively assist with any attempt in the market to provide a voice specifically for letting agents. If you have an initiative you’d like some help with, let us know.