GFWLetting Support OFT

24th April 2013

GFWLetting, a part of the George F White Group, lends its support to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in their call for standards to be raised throughout the private rental sector.

Fran Mulhall, Lettings Manager at GFWLetting said “We whole-heartedly agree that agent’s fees should be transparent and realistic for landlords and tenants alike. Whilst agents must act in their client’s best interest they should not do so at the expense of poor standards in the industry. Tenants should only seek to rent accommodation through reputable agents who have the backing of professional standards such as the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). It is only in doing this that they can sleep easy at night knowing their home meets basic safety standards”.

The OFT calls for a redress service to be made available to landlords and tenants, which suggests that it could be made mandatory for all letting agents to belong to an Ombudsman scheme. As members of the RICS, George F White fully endorse this policy which would help stamp out rogue agents who do very little for their fees.

For its report, the OFT analysed nearly 4,000 complaints made by both tenants and landlords. It found that both tenants and landlords were concerned about fees and charges levied by agents and poor service. Moreover, ‘surprise’ charges were introduced or ‘drip-fed’ once contracts have been signed. Fran commented “At GFWLetting we have a transparent fee structure for landlords and no admin fees for tenants. Our referencing is entirely independent so landlords know we cannot change the result of referencing just to earn a fee”.

The OFT looked at consumer complaints about letting agents made to Consumer Direct during 2011. Of the total, 1,557 complaints were about fees and charges; 1,211 were about agents providing poor service; 1,015 were about deposits; 668 were about repairs; and 565 were about unfair business practices.

Fran thinks this brings all agents into disrepute “Whilst the Government appears to have a growing interest in cleaning up the rental market we as an industry need to act now to stamp out bad practices and to deliver high quality professional service at a fair price”.

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