Preet Sandhu, a director of Happy Lets, the Glasgow-headquartered residential letting and property management company, has voiced her disgust at the way a competitor shut up shop and left hundreds of tenants and landlords out of pocket and warned that this will become a regular occurrence unless immediate action is taken to regulate the letting industry.
Sandhu said: “Having learned about the goings-on at Access Properties (Scotland) Letting, I urge the Scottish government to introduce legislation which would make setting up a letting business more difficult.”
She explained that, at present, anyone could set up a letting business, thereby enabling unscrupulous businesses to set up shop with little that anyone could do if these businesses then disappear taking large sums of money with them.
“Why it’s possible for an unregulated industry to flourish like this is beyond comprehension,” she said.
“Here we have a situation which allows anyone the freedom to hold large sums of other people’s money without providing any form of guarantees. This has to stop before many more people suffer the same fate as the clients of Access Properties.
“I would urge the government to make the Rent Deposit Scheme compulsory. This is a scheme which already exists in England and there is no reason why it should not apply to all agencies in Scotland.
“This would ring fence and protect monies that belong to tenants and letting businesses would have no access to this money. I am aware of a number of letting agencies who have ‘dipped into’ clients’ cash and used it as cash flow in difficult trading times; they should not be doing this as it’s not their cash.”
Preet said that any landlords considering appointing an agency to manage their property should thoroughly check out the background and finances of that agency.
“At the end of the day, landlords are handing over the keys to their properties and the least they should be doing is carrying out some checks before doing so,” she said.
“Landlords are tempted by low management charges but they have to remember that nothing is free: if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Landlords should not be afraid to ask for bank statements which show that the agency has a separate deposit account with a substantial sum of money on deposit. Landlords could also ask if the agency is a member of ARLA and seek confirmation that all client money (rent and deposits) are held in designated client bank accounts and therefore are protected if the company were to suffer financially.”
By choosing an ARLA member, you can be sure you are dealing with an experienced and professional agent. Membership of the Association is through formal qualification, ensuring that ARLA member agents have the knowledge and experience to guide you through your property transaction as smoothly and painlessly as possible.
Operating under strict rules of conduct, members must meet certain standards relating to professional and ethical practice. Under the rules, agents are required to protect and promote their client’s interests, while at all times acting in a fair and proper manner. If you are unfortunate enough to suffer at the hands of malpractice by an ARLA letting agent, the Association can take disciplinary action on your behalf.
Meanwhile, the Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011 became law on 7 March 2011, paving the way for potential scheme providers to develop and submit proposals for the operation of tenancy deposit schemes to Scottish Ministers for consideration.
A tenancy deposit scheme is a scheme designed to protect tenants’ deposits by placing them with an independent third party. The main objectives of requiring deposits to be safeguarded by tenancy deposit schemes are: to end the practice of unfairly withholding deposits; to ensure that deposits are safeguarded throughout the duration of the tenancy; and to ensure that deposits are returned quickly and fairly, particularly where there is a dispute over the return of the deposit, or proportion of it, to tenant or landlord.
“In light of the Access Properties (Scotland) Letting debacle, I would urge Scottish Ministers to make the implementation of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme a matter of priority,” said Preet Sandhu.
For further information please contact Preet Sandhu on 0141 427 7247 / 07792 916890
Issued on behalf of Happy Lets by Liquorice Media tel 0141 561 4018 www.liquorice-media.com
Date 6th September 11