Ian Langley, Business Development Director for mydeposits Scotland attended the Council of Letting Agents Conference in May, the first part of his report is below;
"On Thursday 19th May I attended the Council of Letting Agents Conference in Glasgow and enjoyed a very full day listening to some of the most experienced speakers update over 250 delegates on the recent developments and trends in the Scottish private lettings sector.
The first key speaker was Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action who advised us on how to retain a landlord client when things go wrong; some of the statistics that Paul shared were alarming, such as the fact that his firm (which is based in England) receives about 3 calls a day from ‘accidental landlords’ with problems, especially cries for help where the landlord has failed to comply with Tenancy Deposit Protection legislation and was facing enforcement action; he reminded us that TDP legislation had only been around 9 years in England and made the point that educating landlords as well as agents was essential as we go forward with increased legislative challenges, especially now in Scotland.
Returning to his main theme of ‘business resilience’ he advised us that it was fairly common for his firm to deal with letting agents with around 200 properties to handle and that often 80% of these were ‘let-only’ with 20% under ‘full-management’; the challenge for agents in that position is to convert all landlord clients to ‘fully-managed’ contracts as when you are only responsible for finding the tenant, if things go bad it is always the agent that will get the blame. Only by breaking this ‘let-only’ trend will agents be able to retain landlord clients because it is not the agents fault if the tenant gets divorced or loses their job.
In Paul’s experience the commonest complaints against agents were:
- Withheld rent
- Failing to protect deposit in TDP scheme
- Poor management service
- Poor communications, especially when things go wrong
Paul added that at any one time, his firm is involved with between 3 to 6 legal cases against rogue agents; he explained that the fundamental reason that these rogues continue in business is that landlords select their agent on price – often as low as 5% for full-management – rather than reputation and qualifications. Very often these rogues were estate agents moving into lettings with no experience, using landlord’s and tenant’s money as cash flow to finance their businesses.
Many speakers during the day endorsed Paul’s concern that too often today, legislation is enacted but then not enforced. Going forward, Registration of letting agents will only be successful if it is policed and enforced robustly."