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ARLA launches buy-to-let mortgage comparison site

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Other ARLA Press Releases on this site

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2nd March 2010

Landlords keen to expand their portfolios will be pleased to hear that the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) has launched ARLA Mortgages, an online comparison site. The free service is aimed specifically at the buy-to-let borrower and is flanked by sister sites, NAEA Mortgages for residential purchases and ICBA Mortgages for the commercial property sector.

The service was unveiled at the 2010 ARLA Conference in conjunction with sister products NAEA Mortgages for residential purchases and ICBA Mortgages for the commercial property sector.

Consumers will be able to enter their details and needs on the site and be matched with the best mortgage option for their financial situation. “We’ve had a wealth of requests from our members to offer this comparison service,” said Ian Potter, Operations Manager at ARLA. “A healthy PRS is vital to the success of the housing industry and for potential landlords, being able to secure the best mortgage is key to becoming a profitable landlord.

“As with any borrowing it is essential that full information is available to a borrower in order that they can make an informed decision in connection to the potential of their purchase. This mortgage offering will enhance the services available from our members, who can assist with concerns around the suitability of a property and its likely rental figure. This should have the benefit of assisting the landlord and, at the same time, providing tenants with a better choice in the marketplace.” For more information visit www.arla.co.uk/mortgageservices

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ARLA launches new licensing scheme to protect consumer interests - Consumer interests safeguarded by letting agent licensing

See also: MPs Welcome Licensing for Letting Agents

and Early Day Motion In Support of ARLA Licensing

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Other ARLA Press Releases on this site

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ARLA PRESS RELEASE: 05 May 2009

Hundreds of thousands of pounds of consumers’ money is lost each year to unprotected, unprofessional and unethical letting agents.

In a survey by the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA), 95% of consumers revealed that they believe letting agents should be licensed and it is a shock for many to learn that there is currently no scheme in place at all.

A growing number of tenants and landlords are losing out to cowboy agents in the following ways:

  • Loss of funds through a lack of client money protection
  • No professional indemnity insurance in place to protect a consumer from a serious error;
  • Loss of monies due to the unlicensed agency holding the funds going into administration;
  • Poor advice to landlords, for example about their legally-required deposit protection responsibilities, which can result in loss of the deposit for tenants and/or a fine for landlords;
  • No commitment to best practice or any form of independent redress scheme for when things go wrong.

To prevent the practices listed above, and offer assurance to consumers, ARLA is today launching a Licensing Scheme for its members, thereby establishing the highest standards for letting agents in the UK.

Housing Minister Iain Wright will be speaking at the launch of the scheme in the House of Commons, saying that the establishment of competency and qualification standards will have wide-ranging benefits for consumers

Ruth Lilley, Head of Membership and Professional Development of ARLA, said: “ARLA has lobbied the Government for 10 years to assist us in establishing higher industry standards. For too long the rental sector has been seen as the black sheep of the property market with a lack of regulation of and a requirement for redress to protect the consumer when the agent’s failings are to the financial detriment of that consumer.

“The ARLA Licensing Scheme will create the gold standard for letting agents in the UK, offering consumers best practice service and advice – as well as a commitment to the protection of their money.”

As of today, all ARLA members will need to be licensed as part of their membership, which includes the following implications:

  • Each individual member will hold a gold standard professional qualification relating to lettings;
  • All members must undertake Continuing Professional Development
  • Agents must ensure they have client money protection schemes in place to protect all tenant and landlord funds held by their office;
  • All clients funds require to have an annual independent audit
  • Agents must have professional indemnity insurance in place;
  • Agents must sign up to an independent redress scheme;
  • Agents must abide by a strict code of practice.

None of the above is compulsory for letting agents as standard at the moment.

ARLA’s sister organisation, the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) will follow suit with the launch of its own licensing scheme later this year.

Adam Sampson, Chief Executive of Shelter, said: "It is high time the government acted to introduce statutory licensing for all letting agents, something that Shelter has been campaigning about for some time. However, industry led best practice is a positive step in the right direction. We welcome ARLA’s new licensing scheme and it’s commitment to raising standards in the sector. “All consumers should have the right to expect a professional letting service, and have access to redress when problems arise”

Simon Gordon, Head of Communications, National Landlords Association said: We very much welcome this latest development as another push to raise standards within the private-rented sector. Letting agents are in a particular position of trust between landlords and tenants and their practices must be above reproach. The ARLA Licensing Scheme should go a long way to ensuring consumers are protected from poor letting agents and improve the image of the sector as a whole.”

Letting agent and ARLA President David McMaster commented: “As an agent, this is something I have been campaigning for for years. Having a license helps me to set my business apart from all the unscrupulous, untrained and unethical agents who I hope will one day be ousted from the market because of this scheme.”

Paul Ramsden, Deputy Chief Executive, Trading Standards Institute, commented: “The absence of Government regulation of letting agents has long been a concern for TSI. We have in the past, and continue to, call for tighter controls of this sector. In general, but even more so during these difficult times, people will leave themselves vulnerable to letting agents intent on reaping the benefits of the regulatory gap in which they operate.

“Though sometimes difficult, consumers, be they tenants or landlords, should seek out letting agents backed by bodies operating OFT-approved codes of conduct to give themselves some level of protection. Whilst it is gratifying to see this increase of self-regulation amongst some sector operators, persons will continue to fall prey to unscrupulous letting agents until such time that a compulsory and robust system of regulations is introduced.”

Richard Beamish, Chief executive of Asset Skills, the Sector Skills Council for the property industry, said: “Letting agents often suffer unfairly with their public image despite most being honest, well run businesses. We have long pushed for minimum standards in estate agency and fully support ARLA’s licensing scheme for letting agents. We believe it will go far in improving public perception of the profession.”

Richard Capie, Director of Policy and Practice, the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “The UK housing market needs far-reaching wide-scale, holistic reform to deliver fair, affordable and flexible housing in the future. The Chartered Institute of Housing believes the Private Rented Sector is an essential part of the mix with huge potential to meet the aspirations of many people currently unable to access suitable housing. The licensing scheme represents a major step forward and will give greater confidence to tenants and housing professionals alike.”

Source ARLA

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MPs Welcome Licensing for Letting Agents

MPs Welcome Licensing for Letting Agents MPs today gave their backing to the launch of the Association of Residential Letting Agent’s licensing scheme at the House of Commons. MPs signed a register in support of ARLA’s commitment to create the highest standards for letting agents in the UK and prevent unethical practice.

Iain Wright, Housing Minister, said: “Many residential letting agents operate with great professionalism and there are already ways of seeking redress when these standards haven’t been met, but we have to go further. ARLA's new licensing scheme will promote greater professionalism and increase consumer confidence. It is this kind of commitment to the highest possible standards that we are looking to ensure across the private rented sector."

Peter Bolton King, Chief Executive of ARLA, said: “The support of today’s event by the attending MPs highlights the need for a scheme that stamps out bad practice and offers assurance and protection to tenants. From this point on, the consumer will now know that working with an ARLA approved agent means that they will receive the best possible advice and service.”

ARLA is the Lettings and Residential Management Division of the Federation of Property Professionals.

The Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) was formed in 1981 as the professional and regulatory body for letting agents in the UK. ARLA was the first body in the letting and property management industry to introduce a licensing scheme for all members in May 2009 to promote the highest standards of practice in this important and growing sector of the property market.

Financial Protection All members are required to have professional indemnity insurance cover. In addition they are covered by a bonding scheme which provides financial protection for client monies which have been misappropriated.

Professional Standards ARLA members are governed by the Code of Practice providing a framework of ethical and professional standards at a level far higher than the law demands. The Association runs a series of meetings, training courses and seminars at local and national levels to ensure that members are kept fully up to date with the latest best practice. ARLA members are also required to undertake 12 hours of continuing professional development training a year. Examinations are held regularly and membership rules require all member offices to have professionally qualified staff. Members’ client bank accounts are required to be audited annually ensuring that they conform to a stringent accounting practice.

Complaints/Discipline The Association has its own complaints and disciplinary procedures so that any dispute is dealt with efficiently and fairly. Where necessary, suitable sanctions are imposed on the member. Members are also required to sign up to an independent adjudication and redress scheme through the Property Ombudsman

Influence ARLA is recognised by government, local authorities, consumer interest groups and the media as the leading professional body in the private rented sector. It produces policy papers on key issues affecting the lettings market and lobbies government and other bodies within the industry to develop the appropriate legislative framework and initiatives.

Typical of such initiatives are: 1. The extremely successful ARLA Buy to Let scheme which succeeded in persuading lenders to reduce interest rates for investors wishing to purchase properties to let. As a result of this, some £12 million was invested in the private rented sector within its first 12 months of operation in 1996. Visit the Buy To Let section on this site for more details. 2. Companies wishing to join ARLA already have to meet higher standards of performance than those defined under the NALS scheme. 3. ARLA works with Asset Skills in producing educational materials for the industry. Details can be found at www.assetskills.org

Marketing Advantage With its policy of developing and maintaining the highest possible standards within its membership, ARLA is seen as a benchmark for professionalism that both landlords and tenants can have confidence in. This provides its members with a unique marketing advantage in an industry where standards vary significantly and where clients should choose who to use with great care.

Source ARLA

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Early Day Motion In Support of ARLA Licensing

To coincide with the the launch of the ARLA Licensed Agent scheme, Warwick and Leamington MP, James Plaskitt has submitted the following early day motion which has already been signed by a number of well known MPs.

"That this House notes with concern that the private lettings sector is currently unlicensed, a situation which poses risks to both landlords and tenants; further notes that without rules and standards, many people could be putting their money in the hands of people who are not members of a professional body, not obliged to maintain separate client accounts with rent money and tenants' deposits as well as other clients' funds, do not offer consumer redress, are unlikely to have professional indemnity insurance, are not professionally qualified, or are not members of a tenancy deposit scheme; believes the licensing of letting agents is necessary to eliminate unprofessional, unqualified and unethical agents from the rental market, and to protect the consumer from unscrupulous letting agents; believes that the Association of Residential Letting Agents licensing scheme will provide a model that will drive up standards and can inform the Government's thinking on the licensing of letting agents; and urges the Government to consider making the licensing of letting agents mandatory."

Source ARLA

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See also

The Golden Age for The Landlord? Rental Demand Reaches Record High ‘Generation Rent’ must be given Regulatory Protection - October 2010

Housing Minister Grant Shapps promises 'no more red tape' for private landlords - June 2010

ARLA has appointed Sue Hughes-Thomas as president - June 2010

ARLA launches buy-to-let mortgage comparison site - March 2010

Response to FSA Paper on Mortgage Lending - October 2009

Response to statistics from NLA on rental arrear-October 2009

Demand in rental market returns for the first time since recession began - 28 September 2009

Review of ARLA Agreement Magazine on Insurance - August 2009

Property Woman of the Year ARLA sponsors young property woman award at the NLA Property Women Awards 2009 - May 2009

ARLA launches new licensing scheme to protect consumer interests - Consumer interests safeguarded by letting agent licensing - May 2009

ARLA welcomes the Government’s “historic shift in thinking” on the private rented sector towards improved industry standards - May 2009

ARLA - Research Reveals Britain’s Reluctant Landlords - April 2009

ARLA demands an end to unregulated Letting agents - January 2009

ARLA Welcomes Rugg Review on the Private Rented Sector - 24 October 2008

ARLA’s Response to the Law Commission Report - August 2008 and The Law CommissionHousing: Encouraging Responsible Letting

Professional Property Organisations

Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) UK

mydeposits will stick by all letting agentt- January 2009

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November 2010

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