Landlords have been reminded of the importance of choosing a regulated letting agents that adequately protects its customers after another local firm went out of business in Dorset.
Woodhouse Lettings in Wimborne recently closed its doors without warning shortly after another lettings agents in the town, Morgan Hampton, shut in January.
While it is not yet known whether either company adhered to a regulated Client Money Protection (CMP) scheme, ensuring landlords and tenants will not lose out financially as a result of their demise, many customers have been left without anybody managing their properties and collecting rents.
Tony Wilson, branch manager at Leaders in nearby Poole, says: “Wimborne and the surrounding area has lost several estate and letting agents in recent times, with various companies folding as a result of malpractice, financial negligence or incompetence.
“This leaves landlords and other customers not only in an extremely difficult situation as they lose their property management services with no warning, it can also result in them being thousands of pounds out of pocket.
“In more than 30 years in the industry, we at Leaders have seen far too many cases in which agents have closed without returning tenants’ deposits, leaving the landlord liable for returning these funds.”
Letting agents are not formally regulated by the government, meaning it is up to customers to ensure they pick a reputable and trustworthy business. A good start is to only work with a letting agents that is a member of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).
Many small, unregulated agents do not follow a CMP scheme, although plans to force all companies to sign up to one have recently been revealed – a proposal Leaders has welcomed.
Tony believes there are several signs for landlords to look out for as they aim to assess the credentials of a letting agents.
“You should consider how long a firm has been established and whether it has a good local reputation, if it has a team of experienced staff able to provide quality service and whether it is a member of ARLA and other bodies such as The Property Ombudsman and SAFEagent,” he explains.
For more advice on finding the right letting agents contact Leaders in Poole or visit leaders.co.uk.