Recent articles in The Guardian have highlighted some tensions in the rental market, particularly in London where some agents are “offering to ‘relocate’ you, rather than letting you a property” and therefore getting “round the rules their rivals must stick to”.
As The Guardian goes on to state, “ Relocation agents, who deal with wealthy clients have been around for years, typically sourcing properties for cash-rich, time-poor executives relocating to a different part of the country. As well as finding potential properties, they negotiate tenancy terms, often help with a family’s educational requirements, and even sort out the logistics of the move.”
“But, on the other side of the divide – where tenants with little money are looking for the very cheapest accommodation – there are a growing number of companies describing themselves as “relocation agents” who simply make appointments, and charge for doing so.
Legally, letting agents aren’t allowed to charge tenants to register or to see a list of available properties. But the companies advertising these tiny – and for London, relatively cheap – properties, claim they don’t receive any payment or commission from landlords.
And that means they are exempt from the rules letting agents must stick to. Instead, they call themselves “introduction” or “appointment making” services, or “relocation agents” and say they work for the tenant, not the landlord.”
I believe there’s a place in the market for both types of agent provided the client (and the landlord) understands who the agent is working for (usually which party is paying); being clear of loyalties and avoiding conflicts of interest.
However the role of a Professional Relocation Agent, otherwise known as a Home-Search Consultant or Property Finder, is more than simply an appointment making service and acts solely on behalf of the client – the property ‘hunter’. The role is governed by the ARP (Association of Relocation Professionals) and members of the ARP, such as myself, have to follow a robust process to join the Association. This includes signing up to industry regulators including Anti-Money Laundering, ICO (data protection), Property Ombudsman and also have appropriate levels of Professional Insurances. Members must also follow the ARP Code of Ethics as well as other codes relating to the property industry, to safeguard ourselves and clients.
That said, good Relocation Agents will work closely with estate agents and Professional Landlords respecting each other’s boundaries; developing good relationships benefits both client and the vendor/landlord. These could include greater flexibility with viewings, access to properties not on the open market, more informed, and often, successful negotiation strategies. Good news for all in the property market if it keeps properties moving.
Source: The Guardian 23 Jan. 2016