A firm more used to evicting tenants on behalf of landlords and agents has revealed that it is currently investigating six or seven ‘rogue’ agents.
Paul Shamplina, of Landlord Action, said that the number of current investigations is unusually high.
In all cases, it has been instructed by landlords.
Shamplina said: “The three most common complaints from landlords about agents are: the agent has nicked my rent money; the agent failed to protect the tenant’s deposit and I could be liable to a penalty of three times that amount; and I paid the agent for a full management service but didn’t get one.”
He added: “I have literally just taken a phone call about an agent who was supposedly liquidated a few years ago but is apparently still trading.”
Shamplina, who sits on the advisory council for the Property Redress Scheme, said: “My concern is that bad agents are giving the vast majority of good agents a bad name.
“A landlord who has had a bad experience with an agent is unlikely to trust even a good one, and will go down the self-management route, even if they find themselves out of their depth.”
Shamplina last week gave a talk at the Guild of Letting and Management conference.
He said that his message to agents was to concentrate on servicing landlords, while allowing a specialist firm to deal with the problems caused by bad tenants and evictions.
He said that there are currently many problems in the evictions process, including not enough judges, a shortage of admin staff at courts, and a growing shortage of bailiffs.
He said: “You hear a lot about bad landlords, but a lot less about bad tenants who landlords want to get rid of.
“Typically, you don’t hear from these tenants for four or five months, during which no rent is paid. Then the tenant pitches up at court, complaining of a disrepair, which is the best defence to an eviction.
“Or the tenant will take free advice from the court’s duty solicitor. In principle, this is a good thing, but some tenants can abuse it by finding out how they can delay the eviction process.”