On the same day that the subject of last week’s blog was buried, it was announced by the Government that an ‘independent property regulator with far-reaching powers was now in operation’ (Daily Mail 17 April). Whilst we accept that there are nefarious rogues and vagabonds operating in the rental market – as in all industries-and their behaviour and working practices should be monitored if not curtailed, this announcement raised more questions than it provided answers. For a start, what is this regulator to be called, where is it to be based and more importantly, how does one contact them?
Whilst it is perfectly reasonable for an agency to charge a fee for referencing and drawing up a contract, it is also reasonable for a prospective tenant or landlord to have these fully explained. Our advice to anybody wishing to enter the lettings market, whether as a landlord or as a tenant, is if you see the words, ‘non-refundable’ or even the headline-grabbing, ‘free’, get a full-explanation of the small print. A professional, fully-comprehensive lettings service is not and can not be ‘free’; somewhere deep in that glossy package will be the real cost of what you will be paying, even if it is on page 18, paragraph 2, sub-paragraph d, point 1.3.