When letting a property, many of us turn to letting agents for help, and as many of you will know, not all agencies are the same and some will be more effective than others.
When it comes to choosing a letting agent, some landlords offer repeat and long standing business to a particular firm, while others make a shortlist of new agents to use, often based on recommendations from friends and neighbours, to let boards, online advertisements and marketing material posted through your letterbox. But for landlords with properties in the London Borough of Newham, there is a new alternative option to help choose the right agent – a letting agent rating system.
The pioneering scheme has been launched by Newham Council in a bid to help provide landlords and tenants with independent information ‘they can trust’, enabling them to identify good and bad agents.
Newham Council has carried out a detailed audit of every letting agent in the borough in the past two years, to identify those that are safe to use - and those with a poor history.
By 2026, it is estimated that around 60% of Londoners will be renting and if Newham’s scheme succeeds, it is likely to rolled out across other parts of the capital, according to a report in the Evening Standard yesterday.
John Bibby, senior policy officer at Shelter, told the newspaper: “Both renters and landlords could benefit from more information on who they can trust.
“Newham’s rating system will provide landlords with credible, independent reviews to help them pick a decent letting agency to market or manage their property, which should have a positive knock-on effect for tenants. If this works, it will help to make the case for the wider reform of private renting.”
Somewhat shockingly, more than one in 10 agents in Newham received just a single star - a rating indicating “compliance failures” or cautions for breaches in the law over the past two years. They include Foxtons in Stratford, which was fined £2,500 after failing to clearly explain its fees to prospective tenants.
Four years ago, Newham became the first council in the country to introduce mandatory licensing for landlords. Licensing has resulted in more than 1,200 prosecutions in London.
Sir Robin Wales, mayor of Newham, said: “We are stepping in to help protect residents from businesses and individuals who exploit extreme demand in the property market to rip off and overcharge.”