"Unlicensed agents pose real threat to private rented sector"
"As Britain is apparently on the verge of becoming a 'nation of renters', renting is now a necessary choice for many people who cannot afford the deposit needed to buy their own home; indeed, for some it is a more flexible option than buying. It is critical, therefore, that that the Private Rented Sector is treated with greater seriousness by the Government - the first step in this approach should be enforcement of existing requirements to protect tenants with action being taken by local authorities to ensure a landlord provides a safe home.
"Additionally, many agents offer no consumer protection by means of Client Money Protection or fail to offer consumer redress through an Ombudsman Scheme. Both elements, when combined with a professional training and qualification programme, will allow tenants to enter this market with confidence.
"The threat posed by unlicensed agents grows more pressing as the market expands, placing both landlords and tenants at increased risk of financial loss. Until that time as the Government steps in to regulate, our advice to anyone looking to rent a property would be to use an ARLA-licensed lettings agent to ensure they're protected against unethical agents. It was only last week that an agent in the East Midlands was reported to have disappeared with client funds. This type of behaviour cannot and must not be tolerated."