BBC “Watchdog” programme on rogue lettings agent highlights the safety of working with an accredited agent

September 19, 2013

Last night, BBC’s “Watchdog” programme turned its attention to the lettings industry again.

A rogue letting agent was caught on camera obtaining multiple deposits of £200 off tenants, in respect of the same property!

The company, Best Lettings For You, was advertising a house to rent in Preston. To secure it, all prospective tenants had to do is put down £200 … or so the agent said.

“Watchdog” sent in three “stooge” tenants to apply for the property.  All three of them were told that, if they handed over £200.00 as an “administration fee”, the property would be theirs, and no other tenants would be allowed to view it.

Lawyer Mark Weston assessed all of Rogue Traders findings:

“There’s no shades of grey there, it’s black and white. They were caught in an outright lie, not once, not twice, but three or four times. Legally there’s a whole host of things that’s wrong with that. It certainly seems as if the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 applies.”

Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, companies cannot do anything misleading with an effect that causes a consumer to do something they wouldn’t otherwise have done. Here, would-be tenants are paying out £200 which they wouldn’t otherwise have done if they knew the truth.

Mark Weston continues: “The second thing and probably more damning is that it is probably an outright fraud. There are a few fraud offences. One of them is called a Fraud by Representation. This means that if you dishonestly say anything that’s untrue with the intent to make a gain, that’s illegal”. However, that is exactly what has been happening – repeatedly.”

This “Watchdog” episode once again highlights the need for tenants to reduce their risk of being de-frauded by a rogue agent,  by letting through an accredited agent.   The sector is currently largely un-regulated but there are accreditations that both tenants and landlords can look out for.

Northwood are proud to say that all our offices have voluntarily been members of the Property Ombudsman Scheme for a number of years. Many offices are also licenced with a least one official body such as NALS (National Approved Lettings Scheme) or ARLA (Association of Residential Lettings Agents).

We are a founding member of the SAFEagent mark and fully support its role as the consumer signpost to agents who have recognised client money protection in place.

Northwood is one of the most high profile and established lettings agencies in the U.K. with a national presence.  When it comes to renting the place that might be your home for the next few years, renting through us will give you complete peace of mind that your tenancy will be set up and run in a professional manner … and that you won’t need to have “Watchdog” on your speed dial!

Northwood is one of the largest and most recognised lettings agents in the U.K. and the leading supplier ofGuaranteed Rent to give landlords complete peace of mind.

Find us on Twitter @northwoodUK or visit our YouTube Channel.


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