Compliance is easy?
I have covered elsewhere the advantages and need for lettings agents, (and residential) to be compliant. Not for the sake of it, not because it is the most important part of your business, but because it is the law, it makes the business safe, and it gives you a competitive edge. Some argue that when regulation arrives that suddenly it will become a level playing field, everyone will be compliant and that will be that, so don't spend too much time perfecting it now as in 18 months it won't matter. I beg to differ.
Without a regulated industry, there are still countless pieces of legislation, regulations, codes of practice that need to be adhered to, but they aren’t for whatever reason, so an uncompliant agent now will still be uncompliant in the future, as they were 5 years ago as well. You can dress it up all you want in terms of calling it regulated, most company practices for lettings already are. The regulation is going to apply more to individual training, licensing and membership. That won't make the business suddenly do things properly though.
So have most agents got it cracked? Well, it was widely reported last week, in the 15 months leading up to June 2019, 46% of London agents inspected by Trading Standards were not compliant regarding the Consumer Rights Act or the legislation on redress scheme membership. 256 fines were issued amounting to an eye watering £1.2m for not adhering to legislation regarding declaring and displaying fees and redress schemes. There were 14 criminal prosecutions by London Boroughs on a variety of matters and 1092 complaints made by customers.
Whilst regulation might get some to pay more attention, compliance is always a work in progress. Well-designed systems and processes mean you have a fighting chance of getting it right, but they need constant testing and refining, staff need training, there needs to be a cultural buy in. You don’t become a compliant lettings business overnight, and when you do, simply tick the box and move onto the next project. 54% of agents passed muster in these 15 months, now they must do it all over again, as well as the 46% who have some homework to do.