Property agents in Teignbridge, Devon are being invited to participate in a voluntary rating scheme similar to the ‘food hygiene rating scheme.’
Teignbridge District Council has introduced a Property Agent Rating Scheme (PARS) similar to the ‘food hygiene rating scheme.’ Landlords and tenants will see participating agents display window stickers and certificates in their offices and ratings on their websites.
On their website the Council suggests that the PARS will enable landlords and tenants to ‘easily identify who they can trust to look after their interests.’ Furthermore, the scheme is a means of ensuring that all lettings agents and property managers comply with letting related legislation.
To participate in the scheme agents and managers will need to complete an online questionnaire. Initially all those that participate appear to be granted Bronze status. For those that wish to obtain Silver, Gold or Platinum status further questions and supporting documents will need to be supplied. For bronze status a example of some of the questions asked are:
- Which tenancy deposit scheme is used?
- Are properties free from category 1 hazards under the HHSRS?
- Are Right to Rent checks carried out and documents kept?
For those that seek to obtain silver status an example of some of the questions asked are:
- Do you have a staff training and continuing development program?
- Do you keep comprehensive rent accounts?
- Do you offer advice to improve low energy performance ratings?
For Gold status an example of some of the questions asked are:
- Do you measure customer satisfaction to improve service?
- Do you treat prospective tenants with respect, regardless of their circumstances?
- Is your business affiliated with a regulated body?
- Are your phone lines operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
This is not the first rating scheme in England, and it is unlikely to be the last. Until full agent licensing is brought into force it is a logical move for councils to introduce rating schemes to encourage market forces to push out poor quality agents however, the success of these schemes is less to do with the quality of the rating mechanism and more to do with the level or awareness amongst consumers. The challenge for Teignbridge council will be to promote their scheme sufficiently for consumers to be discerning over the rating a specific agent has. Without this, consumers will not choose agents on their rating and agents will not expend their efforts to sign up as a result the scheme is unlikely to be successful.