Newspaper to launch private rental portal...retrograde step for standards or a good idea

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 by Ed Mead

It appears that The London Evening Standard, backed by a company that allows private landlords to "do it yourself", is to launch a portal widening this service considerably in the South East and London. I'm not entiurely sure that this is sensible from the Evening Standard or likely to improve protection, both tenants from landlords and vice versa.

Upad, the private rental company, is a perfectly reasonable proposition and there’ll be many that would think ‘yes please, why not’.

Being on the Board of TPO I can tell you, though, that over 60% of ‘issues’, as Upad call them, come from lettings and many of those become very emotional very quickly. They’re often about money as rental agents actually handle money (sales agents don’t) and can therefore be very real.

But as with anything in life, you get what you pay for. Renting yourself has always been possible, as has selling, and the Upad model means you supposedly have a backroom staff to help. But with 3,500 claimed lets last year nationally, that’s a lot of people spread over a small area if you want a management service.

Many landlords think they don’t want a management service even though they really need it.

To encourage a sensible long-term private rented sector, we need decent, well-maintained accommodation. D&G have been letting for over 50 years and those landlords who have been with us for all that time – and a few have – have portfolios in excellent condition because we told them when they needed to update it.

I am not sure sure client advice is top of the heap in a pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap Walmart-style outfit.

Rightmove and Primelocation recently started to allow Upad to advertise on their sites despite Upad not really being an agent, but the rules were relaxed about what constitutes an agency and they’re now on these sites.

The public find it easy to point at agents and blame property ills on us, but at a time when the rental business needs licensing and closer monitoring, for big portals and the Evening Standard to promote and support an effective free-for-all seems counter intuitive.

These portals and the Evening Standard rely on agents for a large part of their incomes and they should not rely for too long on a divide and rule policy.

The agency world is getting its act together as higher standards are sought, and these days, in part thanks to TPO having 90% of agents under one roof, we do actually communicate.