Letting Agents – Stay Safe!!

Due to the current financial climate in the UK more people than ever are choosing to rent properties rather than buy. Whilst most letting agents are genuine and will do a grand job of finding you a home at a reasonable cost, others are looking to take away your hard earned money for products and services that simply aren’t up to standard or do not exist.

UK letting agents are not strictly regulated in the same way as estate agents, the main difference being the 1979 Estate Agent Act. The government are working towards tighter regulations but tenants are calling for more action to be taken to protect them from cons and scams associated with the letting market.

Fortunately there are a few simple steps you can take in order to protect yourself from rouge agents, the first is to make sure they are part of a recognized professional body. If a firm is part of the Association of Residential Letting Agents or a similar professional organization they are more likely to be qualified and experienced in the role they are being asked to carry out.

In 2012 Mark Prisk announced letting agents had to join up to a redress scheme during a change to take place in the following year. These redress schemes are in place to offer tenants and landlords a clear path to push complaints regarding third party letting agents, the most commonly known schemes are the Surveyors Ombudsman Scheme and Property Ombudsman.

Agents may be required to apologize to tenants and even pay back compensation under new regulations if a complaint is upheld. Breaching a code of practice or legislation could lead to removal from the approved redress scheme meaning they could no longer trade as letting agents.

When choosing a letting agent it is advisable to select one who is part of a client money protection scheme, agents belonging to such schemes should usually have a SAFE mark or some indicator on their websites. If your letting agent is a member of Safe Agent, you can be assured your money is not being misused and your deposit is protected.

Once you have researched and chosen a suitable property it is advisable to have everything you need to sign up handy, letting agents have been known to take unnecessary payments upfront for people to grantee themselves the rental contracts they want in advance. Do not be pressured into paying these so-called fees or fall for any other hidden charges.

Some more devious agents will not disclose the total price of the agreement upfront, this makes it difficult to compare prices and ultimately ends up costing you more money as a result. Always ask about added costs and read the terms and conditions including small print fully before signing anything. The only fees a tenant will occur in most genuine cases are a month’s rent as deposit and a fee for credit/reference checks.

According to statistics 20% of tenants in the UK feel dissatisfied with their agents and can freely voice their opinions on sites such as Meet My Agent, UK Letting Agents Directory or All Agents. If you think it may be too late and you may have been a victim of an abusive rental contract you can call one of our friendly team at CPC Worldwide on 01913862487.

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If We Were In Charge!!

After having listened to several political parties manifestos over the last days, today our MD Mrs Crozier had a go of her own. She addressed all issues put forward by the political parties and gave her view on what she would do if she were in charge of not just our successful business but in fact the whole country!!

The manifesto is below for anyone to read or comment on. We would like to know if you agree or what you would do differently if you were put in the driving seat…

THE NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE

As w know this was set up to provide FREE health care for all citizens. Health care includes dentistry, eye care and prescriptions.

We would return the health service to its intended format i.e. Free at the point of usage to all citizens not just selected groups.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFIT

This was set up to provide for people unable to work. It was not designed as a lifestyle choice.

In Europe benefits are not paid on arrival, the norm is you must work and pay your contributions for two years prior to receiving state benefits, before anyone says well this is what Nick Clegg says surprisingly enough he probably got the idea from his wife who is Spanish as this the system in Spain.

Incidentally when you get unemployment benefit in Europe you get 80%of your salary for two years not £70 a week!

Benefits must allow people to live whilst they search new employment not starve. Oh and sanction targets for job centre staff will be cancelled, job centre staff are there to help find work not punish the unemployed because there are no jobs.

EMPLOYERS CONTRIBUTIONS

This tax on employers must be cancelled as of now. Why should employers pay a further tax for giving someone a job? We could employ two more people if this tax on us did not exist. By charging us for having staff the government is limiting employers from recruiting.

EDUCATION

Free schools to be abolished, the state must provide a rounded education to all children. By rounded I mean an education that provides knowledge in a range of subjects including history, geography, science, literature and art.

University education should be free to any child who has the exam results, knowledge and ability to add value after their time at university to the country.

Timeshares – Stay Smart!

For some time timeshares have been considered a big financial risks to those who purchase this type of agreement, this is due to the fact many unscrupulous individuals have well planned schemes to get investors to part with their money. If you were looking at buying a timeshare it would be most sensible to seek one that is protected by The Timeshare, Holiday Products, Resale and Exchange Regulations (Timeshare Regulations for short) as they offer extra cover and special protection.

When you purchase a timeshare you are buying the right to use a holiday property for a set amount of time each year. You usually make a one-off payment for the number of weeks you wish to spend in the property, once you have paid these fees you are given the right to use each week you have bought, usually for a certain number of years depending on your contract. It is not unusual for these types of contracts to have added maintenance charges on top of the initial cost.

Although there are lots of genuine companies who provide their customers with top class accommodation, lots of people have also come to regret signing up. When buying a timeshare it must be taken into account that it is not an investment, its therefore quite unlikely to hold its money and will be rarely sold at anything close to the initial value.

Before committing to anything it is wise to make sure this is still the type of holiday you intend to come on every year, or at least until the end of your contract. It is important to take the maintenance fees into consideration; these will have to be paid as often as the agreement states necessary and could prove to be a pain if you came across financial hardship.

Sales presentations for timeshares can often make customers feel like they are under pressure to buy on the day, it is not recommended to sign up on the spot, take all documents home, read over them and even have them checked by an independent legal expert. The most common reason people rush to sign up is a special discount rate; firms tell people they can save money if they sign up today. If you hear any sorts of offers along those lines it is recommended to double or treble check the company and contract they have offered you before going any further.

It is essential to do research before attending a presentation or purchasing a timeshare, always ask for several references and copies of any conversations in writing. Be very cautious of any form of out of the blue communications offering business deals and investments, it is best not to give them any personal information over the phone.

If you already own a timeshare, beware of resale scams; people may claim to either help you sell your timeshare for a fee or buy it from you if you agree to buy another. Resale scams usually end up with the customer loosing significant amounts of money in upfront fees or being stuck with a second timeshare they don’t want.

If you want more information on timeshare fraud you can telephone the Timeshare Association 0845 230 2430 or one of our friendly team at CPC Worldwide on 0191 386 2487.

Protect Yourself From Investment Scams

Investment fraud is just one trick in the book of many scammers, today we are taking a look at some of the ways they are getting members of the general public to hand over their hard earned cash. The one promise investment scammers will almost always make is one of high return, they will try and convince you to invest in land, shares, gold, jewels or even carbon credits at a high price although it turns out they are worthless, fake or impossible to sell on.

Some people in the UK are being scammed without even leaving the security of their own home, people have been caught time and again with their guard down receiving cold calls and handing over money without investigating further. A lot of these investments do initially sound to good to be true, if this is the case they probably are. Investors that push people using phrases such as “Move fast or miss out!!” are often no other than fraudsters trying to secure a quick deal and take your money as soon as possible.

It would be foolish to think it is only inexperienced investors who fall for these tricks, anybody could fall victim to one of these unscrupulous souls next. Even investors with lots of experience have been conned by these people who appear to be so professional and act in such genuine manor. The Financial Conduct Authority estimates an annual loss of £200 million to victims, with the average con costing each person around £20,000.

The best way to protect yourself before investing is to check if the broker is authorized by the FCA, they should be as it is a legal requirement if you wish to arrange or deal in investments. Once you know you are dealing with an approved broker you can do some background research. See if they are UK based or overseas, if they are members of any trade associations and if they have a proven track record.

If you are considering making an investment, have completed your research and are still unsure of the best thing to do, before handing over any money for goods, land or shares is contact the Financial Conduct Authorities customer helpline on 0800 111 67 68, they can give independent advice as well as telling you about known fraud schemes.

If you feel it is too late and you may already be the unfortunate victim of an investment scam waste no time in calling us on 0191 386 24 87, one of our friendly team will help you get back the money you deserve!