“Tim Hollingsworth, managing director of leading estate agency and surveying firm Rumball Sedgwick, tells you how to ensure your agent is reliable and reputable.
You may have read in the news recently that the Government is going to crack down on perceived unfair charges and dodgy practices carried out by leaseholders – and part of this is an attack on property management companies, which they think are guilty of charging far too much for their services. The concern is that excessive charges are being passed on to tenants, who are having to pay ever higher rents.
Of course, the main reason that rents are so high is the chronic shortage of housing, caused by a combination of restrictive planning policies, immigration, and the virtual extinction of the social housing sector over the past 30 years, which governments of all stripes have completely failed to tackle. Blaming property management agents for high rents is like blaming Donald Trump for global warming – it might be nice to think it, but the reality is that the problem goes back many decades.
However, it is true that property management is at present a largely unregulated industry. The only form of regulation is voluntary, and is generally provided either by membership of RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) or ARMA-Q (Association of Residential Managing Agents). Membership of either body gives you assurance that an agent has signed up to a code of conduct, and is regulated and audited to ensure that their clients are cared for in a professional and secure manner.
Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, announced plans for a six week “call for evidence” at the recent ARMA conference. This will look at the issue of rogue agents and overcharging.
ARMA’s CEO Dr Nigel Glen said at the recent ARMA conference: “We have long campaigned for the sector to be regulated and will do all we can to assist the Government. ARMA will continue to be the gold standard for the property management sector.”
Although there are undoubtedly some rogue property management firms, you can protect yourself by using a well-established, reputable, and regulated agent. Here at Rumball Sedgwick, for example, we aim to ensure that all our clients are served and advised to the best possible standards. We are an ARMA-Q regulated firm, and we are also regulated by RICS. All of our team members are qualified – whether it be the property managers, surveyors, or the accounts team.
We are not the cheapest firm on the block, and over the years some clients have asked us to reduce our fees. However, we believe in charging a fair price to do the job properly.
Occasionally this has resulted in clients going elsewhere – but I was pleased recently, when meeting with an old client at a block of flats, to be told how they had experienced terrible service, and how they regretted having changed managing agent.
While we may not be the cheapest, we always provide a thorough and professional service to our clients. Your home is likely to be your largest asset, whether it is a studio flat or a detached house – and you should look after it, using the best agent you can afford. That does not mean you need to spend a fortune, but if you pay peanuts you normally get a monkey rather than the organ grinder!
At Rumball Sedgwick, we continually invest in our staff and technology to provide our clients with a seamless service. We have surveyors, valuers and property management specialists all under one roof.”