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I don’t really watch TV anymore, at least not in the traditional sense, we don’t even have a TV in my house and, honestly, I don’t miss it. We tend to watch things on recommendations, usually a series, documentary, or film (90% of such recommendations are obviously The Wire, Breaking Bad (“possibly the best thing since The Wire” or Game of Thrones). Yesterday was the first time someone suggested BBC’s Watchdog who had run a report on problems with rogue letting agents.

The report explores the problems that arise due to the complete lack of enforced regulation of our industry. We posted an article on our blog recently explaining the potentially dangerous situation whereby anyone can set themselves up as an agent regardless of knowledge, qualification, or accountability.

Working in the industry I wasn’t too surprised to learn about most of the issues that were raised, we regularly here from new tenants who have experienced problems with rogue agents before moving to Homefinders. I was surprised to learn about some of the bigger agents locking tenants into ludicrously expensive utility contracts.

Legislation is being implemented to make sure agents will soon be legally required to be members of regulatory agencies, but how do you keep yourself safe at the moment? Simple. Use an agent who’s a voluntary member of an independent regulatory body. Obviously some letting agents who are not members are fine, but you’re only ever going to find out the hard way. Rent your property from an agent who’s a member of ARLA, NAEA, The Property Ombudsman… and you’re renting from a company staffed by experienced, qualified, diligent agents and property managers. More importantly, if you have a problem during your tenancy and can’t resolve it directly with them, you can complain to the organisation they belong to and they’ll make and enforce a decision.

Homefinders have been members of ARLA, NAEA, The Property Ombudsman and are accredited landlords. We consider membership of these organisations to be a benefit to our business, a reassurance to our landlords and tenants that we know what we’re doing and operate fairly.

The report is currently available on BBC iPlayer and is definitely worth a watch if you’re thinking of moving home, or choosing an agent to rent your property.

(Unless you really care about the average length of a SubWay foot long, I’d skip the first twenty minutes.)