Rogue landlords 'cashing in' on rental boom

by Sarah Ashcroft

A major clampdown is required in the lettings sector in a bid to stop rogue property owners from cashing in on the buy-to-let boom in the UK, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) has warned.

The organisation has noted that the market could turn into "the property industry's Wild West" due to a lack of regulation that allows landlords to get away with taking advantage of cash-strapped tenants.

In addition, research carried out by Rics revealed that two thirds of more than 1,000 respondents who have leased a home in England during the last two years said they were not provided with an inventory when they moved in.

Pointing to "worryingly low" standards within the sector, the body said it is now possible for individuals to establish a lettings agency without any qualifications or understanding of the process of renting a home.

This rise in rogue landlords comes after demand for rental agreements soared in recent months due to a rise in the number of families that are unable to purchase their own property during the current economic climate.

For this reason, campaigners have called for action that will protect the interests of tenants who may be struggling to make ends meet, as many feel they have been ripped off by costly charges from lettings agents.

A study carried out by homeless charity Shelter in September highlighted around 23 per cent of individuals believe they had been hit with unfairly large fees for aspects of renting including administration and renewing contracts.

Peter Bolton King, global residential director for Rics, said finding a good lettings agent can be "worth their weight in gold" for tenants and landlords alike.

He added: "However, there are too many corrupt agents that do not belong to any professional body who are taking advantage of the current gap in regulation, putting consumers at risk.

"Choosing the wrong agent can result in tenants encountering all sorts of problems such as lost deposits, broken agreements and excessive charges."

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Published on: November 23, 2012

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