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How to avoid the cowboys.

After a month when three unregulated letting agents as far apart as Nottingham, Watford and Brighton were in the news for failing to safeguard landlords' and tenants' interests and money, the Association of Residential Letting Agents, Arla, has issued a new code of practice.

This is the culmination of nearly a year's work and it reflects the letting industry's worries over rogue landlords and cowboy agents. It also provides a framework to guide all landlords, tenants and buy-to-let investors in the private rented sector.

The need for the code has been underlined by news of an unregulated agent in Nottingham convicted of failing to keep an account of clients' deposits. In the same month, in Watford, a county court judgement was issued against another unregulated agent. Meanwhile, in Brighton, the principal of an unregulated letting agent has gone missing owing thousands of pounds.

Arla chief executive Adrian Turner said: "We don't want to have to draw attention to failed unregulated agents. We want the public, tenants and landlords to make the effort to understand what they should expect from properly regulated Arla letting agents. Then perhaps tales of misery will stop."

Together with Arla's ever-popular leaflet Trouble-Free Letting - What Every Landlord and Tenant Should Ask, the code of practice will enable the public to form their own judgment about the service they should expect from letting agents.

The code covers residential letting and property management services and must be followed closely by registered Arla members and their staff.

The code covers the procedures governing terms of business, fees and charges, rent collection and management. It pays particular attention to the handling of client monies - landlords' rents and tenants' deposits - and the handling of deposit disputes.

The code and Trouble-Free Letting can be found on the website www.arla.co.uk.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Words:300
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