Says ARLA President, Sue Hughes-Thomas:
With Mary Portas’ recent exposure of the poor customer service given by estate agents in Channel 4’s “Secret Shopper” series, investigative eyes are fixed on the property industry. This time, it’s the turn of those renting out properties to come under the spotlight.
Earlier this month, 500 letting agents gathered at ARLA’s 30th anniversary conference in London. Leaders were amongst those who made the trip to Hammersmith to hear Sue Hughes-Thomas voice her own concerns and pay tribute to the late Neville Lee (the founder of Leaders and co-founder of ARLA). “As with all people-orientated businesses, customer service has to be the lynch-pin for our Members’ organisations. People now expect poor service from estate and lettings agents, so we need to work even harder to build strong relationships with our customers.”
She went on to share some recent research she had independently undertaken illustrating that there is still a lack of awareness about ARLA and the security it can provide to tenants and landlords alike.
Only one in three bothers to check for ARLA status
The research derives from a recent poll run on the business network LinkedIn. The Poll reveals that only one in three professionals bothers to check if the letting agent they are about to use is ARLA registered. 34% of those polled had no idea that the lettings industry is still not regulated. (A nasty surprise indeed.)
Sue Hughes-Thomas added: “Letting agents should take responsibility to educate customers on the role of ARLA, using their Membership as a badge of honour, displaying it on all marketing materials at all opportunities. With over 6000 members nationwide, this message could be very powerful. Once we have well-informed tenants and landlords, we’ll have raised the bar against which all residential letting agents should work, and the industry as a whole will benefit from a more positive reputation,”
Neville Lee leaves a strong legacy
Mrs Hughes-Thomas revealed how she entered the industry at a time when the late Neville Lee, the founder of Leaders, had been striving to do better by landlords and tenants. In 1981 Mr Lee co-hosted a meeting to create an Association dedicated entirely to raising standards and supporting agents in the Residential Lettings industry. Thirty seven people attended that first ARLA meeting. Today, the organisation has over 6,000 Members and an on-line resource (arla.co.uk)
Two years later Mr Lee founded Leaders, now the UK’s largest independently owned letting chain, run by his son-in-law, Paul Weller. Since its establishment Leaders has always strived to improve standards in the industry and to make the public aware of the importance of using an ARLA-registered agent. Its Sussex director, Jane Wilkinson - one of Leaders’ first employees who celebrates 25 years with the firm this month - recently received an award from the Brighton & Hove Estate Agent’s Association for raising standards in the industry.
For advice you can trust on all aspects of renting or letting in your area, please contact your local Leaders branch.
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The UK's largest independent letting chain, specialising in residential letting since 1983 with thousands of properties, landlords and tenants across the South of England.