The Tenants’ Voice is the UK’s largest tenant community and is a advocate for improved relationships and greater transparency in the UK lettings market.
We have designed an exclusive membership scheme to give good letting agents, who value tenants, a genuine opportunity to positively grow their business and we take great pleasure in matching up rent ready tenants and professional landlords with the very best letting agents. Our vetting system and approved memberships for letting agents is at the core of this and a key component of that is our Code of Conduct that all approved members must agree to.
Our Code of Conduct sets out the principles of good letting agent conduct. This has been developed through consultation with tenants, letting agents and landlords, as well as industry experts, and is something that every letting agent going through our approvals process must agree to adhere to and be reviewed against their customers. It’s a set of conduct requirements drawn from industry body best practice standards. Our Code also reflects what our consumers (your potential customers) have indicated that they expect from a letting agent.
In short, the Code covers a number of different areas:
Polite and courteous customer service at all times. In an increasingly more competitive world customer service is now at the heart of every business and while the lettings market might be buoyant, tenants and landlords still have plenty of choice when it comes to selecting an agent to work with. This is also one of the biggest complaints that we hear from renters in particular and so is at the foundation of what it really means to be a good letting agent. Renters know our approved letting agents will always meet this minimum standard of professional courtesy.
Treating tenants with respect and with the same courtesy and attention as the Agency offers Landlord clients. Tenants are not the direct clients of the letting agent. However, we believe that the situation which often arises – where tenants who are paying thousands a month in rent find themselves being treated discourtesiously and without respect – is not acceptable. Particularly given the size of the sums of money that change hands in the lettings industry we think the same courtesies should be paid to tenants as to landlord clients of letting agents and we believe that landlords should require this as part of their instructions to their lettings agents. We also believe that this will increasingly be the reason landlords move away from certain agencies, as it bad tenant service will cause too much time consuming friction with tenants, and so it’s in the interests of letting agents to start focusing on this now.
24 hour turnaround on tenant enquiries – a) solution, b) acknowledge enquiry and communicate response plan or c) update on progress Many tenants feel ignored by letting agents and other complain of repeatedly having to chase for information or crucial updates on everything from repairs through to a tenancy renewal. We’re all busy but this kind of customer service is something we believe is important in the lettings industry. Ok, the tenants may not directly be clients of a letting agent when in the property, however, they are essentially the landlord’s customers and as the landlord’s agent, their interests need to be serviced.
Taking steps to make sure all office staff will comply with the TTV CodeIt’s not an excuse in this day and age to blame any issues on a single rogue employee so we want to ensure all staff in an agency are aware of their responsibilities under the Code in order to retain approved status for the agency as a whole.
Comply fully with the TTV membership criteria. Our criteria are what we see as the minimum standard for an excellent letting agent – tenants will trust our judgment on the basis of these standards so we expect you to as well in order to retain your approved status.
Actively ensuring a landlord meets all tenancy agreement and legal obligations. Another major complaint from renters is the number of landlords who seem to believe that renting out their property is simply a matter of allowing tenants to reside in the property for money. The tenancy agreement is a commercial contract, with rights and responsibilities on both sides. It is also supported by legal provisions that imply certain landlord obligations, whether or not they are directly stated. We believe a good letting agent understands that this is a balance of interests and that landlords must at the very least meet their obligations, as set out in the tenancy agreement and prescribed by law. Letting agents that don’t do this are opening up their clients to legal exposure, as well as a great deal of hassle so all our agents agree to ensure landlords understand what their responsibilities are.
Liaise with client landlords in a time efficient manner, particularly with respect to repairs, maintenance and safety issues and encourage the landlord to understand tenant issues and perspective. We believe the role of the letting agent is essentially one of negotiator – you’re the channel of communication between a landlord and tenant, neither of whom may have a particularly strong understanding of the rights and responsibilities of the lettings industry. This is why it’s essential to help landlords to understand tenant issues – this fosters a better overall atmosphere in the lettings market and can help avoid expensive and unnecessary disputes. We also require all our letting agents to be responsive and service focused when it comes to communication with landlords.
Clearly and accurately disclosing all fees payable (including VAT), or potentially payable, by a tenant in advance of agreement being signed. Not increasing existing fees or introducing new fees once a tenancy agreement is signed. Transparency on fees is something we require from all our approved letting agents. All too often we have heard stories from tenants of letting agents who have taken every opportunity to make some extra money from them with fees that are clearly unfair or suddenly increased without warning. TTV letting agents don’t do this unreasonably. We understand the business case for the fees – and the costs they need to cover – but we only promote the interests of letting agents who deal fairly with tenants and landlords when it comes to the matter of fees.
Always provide notice to a tenant in accordance with the notice provisions in the lease before entering a property. This is of course a legal requirement but from the feedback we have received we know that this is often ignored. We predict that, as rents continue to rise, tenants are much more likely to begin to look to enforce their tenancy rights and not giving the proper notice is one action that tenants find particularly irritating. When you sign up to our Code you’ll be asked to ensure that this is always the case, without exception. Our Code seeks to avoid a situation where an agent or landlord faces a claim for trespass or harassment because minimum notice has not been given.
Establishing an in house complaints procedure and providing details of this to tenants. Dealing with complaints is actually a chance for a business to demonstrate excellent customer service and so we require all our approved agents to have a clear complaints procedure in-house – with details provided to tenants when they sign up with you. Feedback we’ve had from agencies indicates that this is also a useful deterrent for any staff who not be treating tenants with the respect they deserve.
Doing everything possible to foster good relations between landlord and tenant and not taking steps that could increase friction. We believe there is a great business case for going the extra mile to make landlord and tenant relationships positive. The lettings industry is notorious for the complaints tenants make about it so when letting agents come along who take the opposite approach tenants (and landlords) view them as gold dust.
The Tenants’ Voice Approval is free and our vetting process is part of what makes us completely unique in the UK lettings industry. A letting agents can not simply buy their way in.
Impartiality has enabled us to establish a degree of trust with our consumers (tenants and landlords) over and above other online directories that are all about paid for membership. It is what differentiates us and is why we’re the UK’s most credible resource for letting agent recommendations. It also provides a way in which we can help you – our approval means something, it means you are committed to offering professional services to both landlords AND tenants and that you have agreed to behave in a manor that reflects that and that we have vetted you against that criteria. It means you are committed to great service.