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December 2008 / January 2009

Lettings — 'think before you switch', says OEA chairman

ESTATE agents who are finding the pressure too great in the residential sales market should think carefully before they switch into lettings instead.

That’s the advice of Bill McClintock, chairman of the company which operates the Ombudsman for Estate Agents Scheme.

As an experienced professional in the residential property business, Mr McClintock is being increasingly sought out by estate agents frustrated at current conditions in the house sales market and seeking advice on what they should do.

"Many see lettings as an easy option, and it’s easy to see why," he said.

"The lettings market is obviously growing at a fast pace because people who can’t afford a mortgage still have to live somewhere."

"Some estate agents see a vast reserve of potential tenants looking for homes plus a bank of buy-to-let landlords who are desperate to match those tenants to their empty properties."

"Unfortunately, it’s not just a case of shutting up shop in sales at midday and opening as a lettings agent after lunch."

"There’s a lot to think about and disputes regarding lettings are becoming a larger feature of the caseload at the OEA."

"The OEA has included residential lettings agents since summer 2006 and has a growing number enrolling."

"This has been boosted by the National Approved Letting Scheme requiring its accredited firms to join and I am now in talks with the Association of Residential Lettings Agents, the lettings division of the National Federation of Property Professionals, about enrolling their members, too."

"At present, 4,960 lettings offices in the UK are signed up to the OEA and its Lettings Code of Practice, designed to protect all parties in a transaction by ensuring high standards."

"The OEA is seeking OFT approval for the Lettings Code. "

"This already applies for our Residential Sales Code which is the only one in the industry that reaches this high standard and is, in effect, monitored remotely from the property industry itself, making it truly independent."