Landlords should use ARLA firms or face consequences

My business encompasses sales and lettings as well as financial services so I was interested to read your article about falling rents (Mortgage Strategy November 24).

Until three months ago we were seeing buoyant rents inflated by the Local Housing Allowance introduced in April.

Until that point there was huge local demand for rental properties and little supply, as many investors were either not buying or simply holding out until prices fell further.

This meant many tenants were staying put and were expected to pay higher rents as properties were in short supply.

But recently I have seen an increase in the number of properties coming up for rent and a sudden lack of tenants.

There is no doubt that it is far more difficult to let properties out now than it has been in the past couple of years.

We have also seen many estate agents turning to this area to supplement income from falling property sales and many amateur landlords are often seduced by the low fees such agencies charge.

Unfortunately, landlords end up paying in the end in many instances. We’ve heard horror stories about unpaid rent not being chased despite agencies offering full management services.

Damage from tenants can be considerable and there are protracted rules about evicting them. If landlords do not receive rent on time and have to repair damage it puts a terrible strain on their finances.

This area of the property sector is often thought to be an easy way to make money but when demand outstrips supply it has a negative effect on prices.

Consumers letting their properties should use qualified firms that are registered with the Association of Residential Letting Agents or the misery of empty properties with mortgages to pay could be the least of their worries.

Chris Bramham

Director

Kings Group

Goffs Oak

Hertfordshire