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NALS Licensing – a compelling proposition for landlords and tenants

publication date: Oct 14, 2009
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Caroline PickeringWith increasing pressure on the PRS to look to protect landlords and tenants, it is essential that these groups are aware of how they can ensure they are best protected and that means understanding the organisations which represent the industry and what they have to offer. Recognising consumer awareness and the need for clear concise communication, the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) has announced that its 1,800 member offices are ‘licensed’ to operate within the NALS scheme.

We made the decision to move to a ‘licensed’ model in line with where the industry is heading and Government pointing. Letting agents bearing the NALS kitemark are now fully licensed operators under the NALS scheme. This is a compelling proposition for landlords, tenants and agents; the consumer engages with the term ‘licensed’ and connects this with protection, demonstrable quality and a benchmark of acceptable standards.

To help drive this message we have designed a new logo/kitemark which will differentiate agents which are NALS licensed. It is easily recognisable and flags the agent as a NALS licensed firm, with the standards and protection that signifies.

NALS, through its Licensing Consultative Forums – attended by industry and consumer groups – has developed a framework for statutory regulation through letting and management agents and this has been presented to the Housing Minister and Communities and Local Government. This will further support the move to a more regulated industry – the purpose of which will be to provide increased protection for landlords and tenants.

Agent feedback to date has exceeded even our expectations and the industry has responded well in difficult times.

What the industry says

Caroline Newman (Director) Newman Residential Letting (offices in Rugby, Leamington, Coventry) shortlisted for the ‘Best Letting Agent in the UK’:

“Having worked in the lettings industry for the last 22 years I have seen many changes; essentially they all relate back to two elements – legislation and market conditions. Since the housing market hit rock bottom we have seen many estate agents put on their ‘lettings cap’ and become ‘letting agents’ overnight – understandably as a means to financially survive as residential and commercial sales dried up. And whilst competition is never a bad thing, these agents are charging incredibly low commission rates to attract custom but the lack of experience they demonstrate is in some cases damaging the sector’s reputation and failing to offer peace of mind to the consumer.”

“At Newman’s we took the radical decision to increase our fees. To us, experience, knowledge and being an active member of an independent industry organisation such as NALS provides that peace of mind and guaranteed credibility. When NALS took the decision to licence all its members – it took that credibility to the next level. Agents are officially authorised to operate and it is easily recognisable to everyone in the industry and most importantly the consumer. The NALS stamp says we are ‘tried, tested and approved’. The world of lettings can be a minefield to a landlord who lets his property through an agent who has no industry organisation to back up their reputation and protect them.”

Terry Lucking, Owner Belvoir! Lettings Peterborough & Corby. “From my experience consumers and landlords are not particularly aware of what they should be looking for or even why they should be looking to see if their agent is regulated, not least if their interests are protected.”

“We need to help communicate, and to a degree educate, current and future landlords and tenants to help them understand how our industry is policed and protected. This needs to start in schools, colleges and be further utilised whereever possible in government advice portals and documents.

Eddie Hooker, Chief Executive, “From our perspective, agents who are part of NALS have demonstrated a commitment to client money protection and accounting. With client money misappropriation having reared its head we need to be confident that agents looking to join fulfill our strict acceptance criteria. With NALS members we can be sure this is the case.

“Landlords and tenants are not always aware of the protection and support available to them, however since NALS has announced its members are now licensed we hope that message will be strengthened.