There are a number of professional trade bodies and associations that represent letting and management agents, each with its own separate offering to help you gain a competitive edge. Location is usually the most commonly cited reason for choosing a particular letting agent. However, around four in 10 tenants (43 per cent) say they’d be more likely to use an agent if they were a member of a trade body (UKALA Tenant Panel research – Q4 2014), so if you haven’t joined one you could be missing out on a significant client base, as well as a number of benefits.
We joined primarily for the excellent customer service we felt we were going to receive; we have not been disappointed. “We always get through to the right person and if they’re not available, we always get a call back. “The link with NLA and their resources has made life as an agent a lot more manageable. Dale James Metro Homes, Swansea.
What’s certain is that the UK’s letting market is becoming ever more competitive and the expectation on customer service and quality assurance has never been greater. UKALA (UK Association of Letting Agents) is one of the newest bodies, and its membership is growing – up by 15 per cent between August 2014 and February 2015.
So what does UKALA offer?
The first – and unique – difference between UKALA and other trade bodies is the access to potential new landlord clients provided through UKALA’s relationship with the National Landlords Association (NLA).
The NLA works with 57,000 landlords across its membership categories, providing a significant route to market.
UKALA members receive free Recognised Supplier status with the NLA worth £1,500 per year, helping you to enhance your industry status and credibility. The relationship means that UKALA represents the whole of the PRS – not just agents.
A significant benefit is that UKALA membership automatically includes Client Money Protection cover with CM Protect. With the typical cost of standalone CMP cover in excess of £300, it’s a snip in an overall annual membership fee of £545 + VAT when you consider the additional benefits.
I was surprised to find an organisation like UKALA – not only does it promote good practice amongst letting agents but it also works in partnerships with landlords. Sue Hopson, Brand Standards Director, Martin & Co
For example, automatic compliance with agent redress laws is a key perk, with membership to Ombudsman Services: Property inclusive to all existing and new agents who join.
You can also take advantage of discounted deposit protection rates, through UKALA’s close links to my|deposits, saving up to £25 per protection (Fees based on account type, volume of protections and dispute ratios.)
Like other trade bodies, UKALA offers a national accreditation kitemark which can help to equip you and your staff with a better understanding of property management issues. Members also enjoy discounted rates to a range of half and one-day training courses organised by UKALA and the NLA.
The key difference with UKALA is that we feel a sense of belonging to an organisation rather than just paying a large fee to display other organisations’ logos. Martin Grealis, Option Homes Limited, North London.
65 per cent of tenants think that agents would benefit from more training or professional qualifications so this mustn’t be overlooked. The government is also considering a national accreditation standard, much like the London Rental Standard; UKALA is expected to play a major role in shaping any future initiative.
Membership also includes 24/7 access to the free Online Library, one of the most comprehensive resources for agents in England, Wales and Scotland which can double up as a structured learning tool for recording your or your staff ’s individual CPD progression. However, one of the most valuable benefits of UKALA membership is its advice line. It’s always reassuring to know that best practice advice is on hand, and with just one call you can be through to a member of a fully staffed team of professional advisers with extensive knowledge and experience, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.
TRY IT AND SEE
Of course, this is just a taster of UKALA membership and there are additional benefits such as access to a host of other products and services that are either free or discounted, such as tax investigation insurance. To find out more or to request an application pack visit www.ukala.org.uk/agents/join-us.
UKALA also offers a regular email bulletin, Update, which can help you to keep up to date with legislative information and provide essential advice on best practice to keep you in step with your responsibilities to landlord and tenant clients. You don’t need to be a member to get this and it’s free to subscribe, so it’s well worth it if just to get a feel for the organisation. You can sign up by emailing [email protected]
● Sign up to Update free of charge by emailing [email protected] or request an application pack at www.ukala.org.uk/agents/join-us