(C) Adam Harrington from the Whitley Pump.
Last night we met with two Reading letting agents to talk about the state of renting in Reading.
Two more agents agreed to come but both had something come up and for some reason most agents were reluctant to talk to us. More than thirty were invited.
We had 20 people there asking questions, mostly ACORN members, and although it was majority of renters, we had homeowners, housing professionals and more. We talked about a number of things such as letting fees and the vast differences between agencies, repairs being done on time, monthly credit checks being done on tenants and multiple other things.
It was unsurprising to find that the agents who agreed to speak with us are not the worst offenders, and they both agreed that some fees are exorbitant, that monthly credit checks are unnecessary and that more regulation of the industry would drag the rogue letting agents up to a better standard.
The excellent idea to campaign for letting agency qualifications to be mandatory even came from Victoria from Space, and she also said she’d like to see landlord exams to make sure they’re fit to practice! Both things we’ll definitely be talking about again.
Our members worked really hard to put the meeting on and asked some excellent questions, ranging from the timescales agencies can leave their boards outside houses, to if letting agencies are hired by, work for and legally represent the interests of landlords, why are tenants paying them?
We’re meeting Victoria from Space and Jennifer from NEA again soon to talk about ethical lettings and how we can start to work together to help represent tenants better.
Another fantastic outcome from the meeting is that an ACORN member working in homeless services is meeting an agent to discuss letting to their service users!
Amazing news considering just before the meeting we were chatting about the demonisation of tenants, especially those on housing benefit and anyone with bad credit history or other things which may well not affect your ability to pay rent, yet still block access to housing.
Thanks to everyone who planned, ran, came to and spoke at the meeting. We look forward to the next one!
If you'd like to read an alternative article about the meeting, visit the Whitley Pump.