Reform welcome but cost no indicator of quality
The director of a growing North East letting agency has welcomed calls for reform to help weed out property agents that fail to safeguard landlords’ and tenants’ money.
Ajay Jagota, managing director at KIS Lettings, was responding to calls by property ombudsman Christopher Hamer who wants to see a new council formed, part of whose remit would be to inform the public about an agent that has, as minimum, client money protection insurance.
New figures reported by the property ombudsman show that there has been a 25 percent increase year on year in complaints about letting agents and Mr Hamer has warned landlords ‘don’t always be tempted by a low fee.’
However, Ajay is highlighting that the amount agents charge cannot be used as an indicator of their professionalism and service and landlords need to do their research when choosing a property management agency.
He said: “Yes, there may be some seemingly bargain agents that need to be avoided, but landlords need to do more research than merely looking at cost to determine whether agents have the expertise and knowledge to provide a quality, secure service.
“In order to be competitive companies like KIS Lettings have developed ways of working smarter so that we can provide the same high quality service but at a fraction of the cost that other agents might charge.”
KIS Lettings, which charges a five percent fee, has invested in an online portal which its landlords can use to access up to date details on all of their properties, including marketing information, legal documents and rent payment history.
The system means that staff can work smarter. By keeping landlords updated daily online, they receive fewer queries which means administration work is much more efficient.
The company is also innovative in its approach to providing security for landlords through the introduction of a guarantor scheme which is backed by Prestige Insurance. It means that tenants do not pay a deposit, instead they have a guarantor, normally a family member or close friend, who will act as an insurance and accept liability on behalf of the tenant.
Ajay added: “The bottom line when choosing a letting agent is to do some background research to ensure you choose a reputable company.
“If possible, landlords should meet agents prior to signing any contracts and many can provide recommendations from their existing clients. Most importantly they need to ensure that there’s insurance in place which covers them should their tenant default.”
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ajay Jagota .