Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Do Letting Agents Get It Yet?

Letting agents – do they, like - get it yet?

Are they finally getting the message? The boos and raspberries about their bizarre, random, money-sucking fees and dubious soul-crushing behaviour have reached such a high level that even Labour are listening. Well, I say listening, when I mean making discreet harrumphing sounds and demanding ‘transparency’, which will hardly have those letting-leeches quaking with fear.

Say it loud - do letting-agents get it yet?
Several London based community private tenant groups, like Digs-Hackney Renters are following Edinburgh Private Tenants Group and staging humorous performative interventions and protests outside notoriously loathed firms like Foxtons. Dressed as the Monopoly board character, complete with lustrous false moustaches, they blockaded the office and were cheered on by passers-by – fellow victims, no doubt. Foxtons were so scared they replaced their staff with bouncers for the day.

I shall repeat the question – do letting agents get it yet?
Every one who encounters them in any way, from landlords, to councils, and of course and especially tenants are sick of their antics. They really are universally despised, for undermining security, shameless profiteering, bare-faced evasion of repairs and justifiable expenditure, but especially for STILL driving those hugely irritating, logo-tastic smart-cars.

But still I wonder - do they get it yet?
They must change their ways. Stop refusing to house claimants. Stop escalating rent prices. Stop being ill-informed and incompetent (my own benighted Landgirl was informed of an important change in regulations not by her soon-to-be-former agents, but by me.) Stop enabling and encouraging those harmful rarities beloved of headline writers, namely rogue and dodgy landlords, to harass and intimidate tenants with spurious ‘inspections’ so as to scare them out in lieu of legal notice.

Do they get it yet?
You are being outshone, rendered irrelevant and obsolete by online portals who charge a little for a lot. Tenants despise you, councils hate you, and yet you appear like Japanese knotweed all over the nations High Street, with high-tech water coolers, high-end magazines, and spurious claims in your windows (and yes, the Scottish agents who falsely claims to be licensed by ARLA - I mean YOU.)

Do you get it yet? Charging for photocopied forms, bullying tenants who ask reasonable questions and refusing to budge when you know they are correct in law. Any party that enacts effective legislation to reign you in will win votes – and there are so many renters in the UK.

Anywhere near to getting it? Letting agents have always been with us, but why are there so many now? Slyly oozing into the ears of nervous buy-to-let landlords like slippery snakes – ‘You can trust us. We only want to help before flipping the whole renting process into web of complication which only ever works to their benefit is their major sin.

Seriously: letting-agents, you are simply a wasteful, harmful anachronism. People never know from one month to the next whether they will have a home, you push up rents and form a layer like scum floating at the top of and contaminating the property market infecting daily life for millions. Do you get it yet?


Rich Tee said...

I just changed the date of my standing order by five days because I changed jobs and my payday is now falling after rent day rather than before.

I wrote the agents a letter a month in advance telling them I was doing this.

Their response was they demanded an inspection. The letter said I would have to "raise any objections within seven days" but it was sent only three days before the inspection date and didn't arrive until the day before.

Clearly an attempt to intimidate me as far as I'm concerned.

RenterGirl said...

Really sorry to hear that. Let me know what happens. Don't be intimidated - you deserve security. All the best.

Anonymous said...

Rentergirl ,how did you find your home?it sounds like you rent from your landgirl privately .
Did you use an agent ? There are thousands of people looking for a private let ,you can rail against agents as much as ou like but if you want to help people save money and grief you should be explaining how to do it .
As they say a little helps worth a lot of pity ,many people will not consider looking beyond a letting agent to find their home and many small time landlords as have said many times and. Have eluded to here are kept in a state of fear by agents so are reluctant to take the step and become a private landlord.

RenterGirl said...

Well, I have written many times about how to find places without agents. Never know why small time landlords use them - they cost money for nothing.

Anonymous said...

What Video?

(from the first anon on here )

RenterGirl said...

No video anon - and damn those spammers.

MattW said...

I've always thought that the pretense of Letting Agents charging fees was very counter-productive. After all, it isn't like LA s aren't getting their cut of the rent, is it?

Up front costs cause voids as not all tenants can get all the money together straight away, coupled with the first month's rent and the damage deposit. If I was a landlord I would expect a LA to get my property rented pretty damn quickly. If I ever considered that LA fees were putting potential tenants off then I would not be happy!

Seeing lesser spotted rented homes advertised on Rightmove at 'half the application fee' or 'fees free' indicates that the landlord have given the LA an earful.

Anon 2 said...

"Stop refusing to house claimants."

Why blame the letting agent?. The last Labour government decided that it would give pay the rent direct to the tenant. They were then supposed to pay the rent to the landlord or letting agent. Instead the tenant decided to spend the money on other things.

Dazzla said...

They did that so tenants could rent without the landlord knowing they were on Housing Benefit. If they can cover the rent, what's the problem?

ES said...

Atrocious LA that I rented through has finally taken off their "No DSS" sign which had been camping on their window for years. I would like to think it's because they are starting to get it, but I fear it's still the same policy inside...

Christian said...

personally i think labour are "listening" in the loosest term possible because they are trying to pick up on the outcry from the pupblic. For crying out loud Ed Milliband wanted to make fergusson a Lord, talk about trying to buy votes!

Barney from Newington said...

The latest Property Ombudsman report shows high levels of customer satisfaction with letting agents (average rating 9.2 out of 10).

Instead of reporting this positive fact Shelter to demonise letting agents tried to spin the report that complaints had risen 118% in the last five years.

This rise in complaints can be explained by the fact that the ombudsman did not take complaints against letting agents until 2006 so the rise is due to increased awareness of The Property ombudsman.