MS Leader: Rent-back rears ugly head

Many in the broker community thought they had seen the last of the sale-and-rent-back market earlier this year when the regulator boldly declared the sector was effectively closed, following a review.

Yet judging from a mystery shopping exercise by Mortgage Strategy, the market seems to be alive and well – well, alive at least. In the Financial Services Authority’s defence, it can only clamp down on those firms that are regulated to offer these types of schemes. As it points out in this week’s lead story, there will always be some form of murky, unregulated rent-back market.

But surely if it is the regulator’s job to ensure the sector is regulated, it should also be coming down hard on those firms that are unregulated? Unfortunately, it seems all too easy to set up a firm and give yourself some credibility by advertising on the internet – the same can also be said of claims management firms.

There was some welcome news for brokers last week, with Which? and MoneySavingExpert.com declaring war on the unscrupulous claims firms that charge large fees and often don’t tell claimants there is another way. It seems a little late for the banks and regulators to be launching its campaign – which includes radio advertisements – but hopefully it will help.

If every consumer who received a text message or email from a claims firm also received one from the Financial Ombudsman Service telling them they could claim for free, it would no doubt put a few firms out of business.

Meanwhile, a warning to any firm thinking of donating old computers to schools or charities. As Safe & Secure learnt to its cost, if you don’t properly dispose of the stored data, you could face being rapped by the Information Commissioner’s Office.