Deregulation Act: what have we learned?

After the passing of the Deregulation Act deposits deadline recently, Richard Price, Executive Director of UKALA, is in a contemplative mood.

At long last

On Tuesday 23rd June, as if you all needed reminding, the deadline to protect deposits that were exposed by the legal rulings of Superstrike vs Rodrigues and Charlambous vs Ng, finally passed.

As tenancy deposit protection (TDP) schemes were still dealing with a last minute flurry of protections, the passing of the deadline was no doubt met with a huge sigh of relief by the rest of the sector, as it should hopefully now draw a line under the issues created by these two legal cases. It should mean that landlords and agents no longer have to fret about deposits that were taken before April 2007 – just as the initial legislation intended. But will it?

What have we learned learned?

This whole debacle was one of those things that had the potential to affect everyone, whether good, bad or in-between.  So what have we learned? Well, what’s clear is that – just as the Tensia vs Vison Enterprises court case of 2010 had already exposed – tenancy deposits legislation is disjointed and was poorly drafted.

But for UKALA, it also highlights the importance of staying on top of your game. This is easier said than done, but if you are an agent and a member of a trade body then there is almost no way you could have missed this or any of the other changes in legislation that have occurred over the past few years. Regular legislatory updates – as dull as they sound – are an incredibly important aspect of running a successful and legal lettings business, and they’re just one of the many benefits of being part of a trade body.

But is it really over?

Unfortunately, while we’d like to think the industry can now move on, there’s still concern for the minority of landlords and their agents who haven’t had their finger on the button and (somehow) managed to miss this deadline. They could end up fodder for no-win-no-fee outfits that are probably kicking in to action as I write.

But those of you reading this that already belong to a trade body and follow best practice, ask yourself: who cares?  And what sets you apart from those that choose not to?

Agents in the know stand out

The lettings sector faces a lot of stick, often rightly so, and it needs to establish a culture whereby we promote excellence and show pride in the service we offer to our clients. If you have Client Money Protection (CMP); if you are a member of an agent redress scheme; if you are transparent in the way you go about setting out fees;  and if there is anything that sets your service apart from the competition, then it shouldn’t take new laws to make you shout about it. Highlighting this kind of information to clients is essential.

UKALA believes that agents need to do more to reinforce good business practice and if you don’t belong to a trade body then there is an easy fix – join one. Don’t just take your existing clients for granted, you never know how long they’ll stick around.

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