On Sunday the BBC published a critical report looking at the alternative deposits sector and its short-comings but one provider, Flatfair, has told The Negotiator it’s fed up with the mistakes of other suppliers sullying the industry’s public reputation, even though it didn’t feature in the programme.
The Negotiator spoke to Simon Scott (above), head of Corporate Clients at Flatfair, to find out what’s riled him about the BBC’s report. Scott recently arrived in post after over 30 years working in the industry including a long spell at Savills.
“Since Flatfair started we’ve been keen to ensure that tenants know what they are getting into every step of the way,” he says. “It’s essential that they make a decision based on a free choice and have all the information in front of them.”
Scott says that if tenants are kept at arms-length from their alternative deposits supplier through a system of ‘smoke and mirrors’, and aren’t told they are joining an insurance-backed service, then that’s when the sort of problems that the BBC has highlighted occur.
“Flatfair keeps getting tarred with this ‘insurance brush’ and tar keeps on getting thicker,” he says.
“No one else is offering an alternative deposit product that isn’t insurance-based in one way or another, and although we don’t want to put our head above the parapet when things like the BBC report emerge, we believe Flatfair offers a better way to do it.”
One point the BBC investigation hints at is that, however good the alternative deposit product, if letting agents are given free reign to market and process alternative deposits themselves then the less scrupulous will sign up naïve tenants and cause problems further down the line.
“We are obliged to ensure that our agents are up to speed with our product as far as humanely possible through training. And one way we stop any mistakes is to ensure that the sign up process only takes place through our platform, so that we guarantee they have been given all the information they need for an informed choice.”