Due to a seemingly never ending news stream of rogue landlords and lettings agents renting unfit property, withholding money without cause or charging extortionate fees, there has been a surge of new legislation and a massive drop in confidence in the sector.
Danny Zane, chairman of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks and managing director of My Property Inventories, says: “A negative perception feeds into mistrust and disputes. That is why most lettings agents seek out AIIC members as a Quality Assurance in their inventory process.”
In 2019, agents may no longer be able to charge tenants fees. Different agents will use different strategies: most will find ways to keep costs down. A positive perception will help them do just that because word-of-mouth is a powerful tool: it means that people come to you.
Independent lettings agents are already well-positioned: they are likely to live in the area they operate in and have a deeper understanding of their community. This allows them to sell the local amenities as well as a home, building trust, relationships and their reputation.
He adds: “Independent agents have a lot in common with independent inventory clerks creating a strong business alignment: our members’ independence gives the parties confidence that things are reported solely based on professional knowledge and expertise in an unbiased manner."
Corporate lettings agents too have been active. The current stigma has driven them to self-regulations in the hope that this will change the public’s negative perception. Another way to seed trust and enhance their reputation would be to engage an independent inventory clerk for properties they manage, market and/or let even when they have an in-house inventory service.
Zane continues: “Because our members are seen in the marketplace as being fair, impartial and having no strings attached, they can help lettings agents position themselves more positively in the public’s mind.”
Even landlords who spend time meeting their tenants cannot be sure on how the relationship will turn by the end of the tenancy.
He concludes: “Our members always take the time to explain tenants the inner working of an inventory report and answer questions that may trouble both tenants and landlords reflecting positively on the lettings agent. A good relationship between the parties is vital and mutually beneficial and I believe our members are part of that."