Self-styled regulators in the lettings industry are jockeying for position as new-boy-on-the-block SafeAgent tries to make an impression with the public.
Regardless of the good intentions behind these schemes, are they really worthwhile from a consumer’s point of view?
The fact is that few if any tenants or landlords ask if a letting agent is a member of ARLA, RICS, SafeAgent or any other organisation when signing up for business.
They probably don’t care either.
Letting agents can plaster their windows and letterheads with as many logos as they like – none of them prove honesty.
It’s more than likely the rogues will feign membership of one of the groups anyway to bolster their credibility.
Not only does no one care until money goes missing, but the number of schemes is confusing to someone in the lettings industry, let alone a consumer.
That’s probably one of the reasons why some of the big chains have decided to strike out alone with the SafeAgent kite mark. The move separates them from the myriad of other bodies that blur together.
A jaundiced cynic might take the view that all these consumer protection groups are just marketing ploys to place the brand ahead of rivals anyway.
To be fair, why should letting agents have a regulated body?
Many would suspect that regulation is really empire building for some groups who will sell indemnity insurance, membership, training and other services on the back of their new-found legal status.
In all the years ARLA and everyone else have tirelessly worked to improve the sector, little has changed, so why should another sticker in the window make any difference?
Letting agents are human. They will still suffer money problems and dip in to rents and deposits to shore up their shaky finances. Putting a logo on the window won’t change human nature or the cause of their crimes.