Not so long ago, one of my clients was trying to buy a flat and the sale fell through. She then had to find temporary accommodation to rent for a few months whilst looking for somewhere else to buy.
She went to a Lettings Agency who passed on to a third party the job of obtaining references for her. They seemed to ask for rather a large quantity of information including bank details, apparently they have an algorithm which gets into your bank account and tells them what you have been spending. I did ask my client what sort of Data Protection Registration these people have. Apparently as long as the third party that they use is compliant then everything is all right according to the law.
They then wanted a guarantor for the rent. So, one Friday afternoon, I had the client on the phone to me almost in tears asking if I could guarantee the rent, as she could not find anybody else to do so. Of course I can do no such thing for clients because otherwise I would not be independent within the meaning of professional regulations.
I am used to Letting Agencies asking for guarantees in the case of young people going away to University. They are concerned that the young persons concerned might spend all their money on sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll, and not pay for their accommodation. The Letting Agents can chase their parents for the rent money if that happens. In the case of my client she is over 50 years old, has university age children of her own, and has been running her own business for many years without getting into any financial difficulty. Besides, she has several hundred thousand pounds in the bank from the sale of her old property.
If the above becomes the new normal, I am rather concerned about what the Government may decide to do to regulate the private rented sector. There will be an awful lot of pressure upon our legislators to Do Something About It. What they Do, of course, might well prove to be counter-productive and to bring in all kinds of unintended consequences in its wake.
Should you, or anybody else that you know, be in need of accommodation to rent on a short-term basis, we have recently met a Mr Michael Andrews from Capital Places who specialises in short-term tenancies. He can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would recommend him as a good person to deal with. Please mention my name when you email him.
Unfortunately, I could not recommend him to my client when she spoke to me because she had already signed a contract with somebody else.
There is a happy ending because my client did in the end manage to move into the temporary accommodation. I felt it best not to ask questions on what she did to get round the agents.
– By Stephen Handley, FCCA