The good, the bad and criminal of Forest Gate's Lettings Agents

Sunday, 1 April 2018


Newham Council became the first in the country to publish a ratings scheme for residential lettings agencies, last autumn - with agents being awarded from zero to five stars, depending on their performance.
  
Below, we produce their verdict on the 28 Forest Gate agents they reviewed - and have comments on some that they haven't. The ratings scheme exists to complement the licensing scheme the council operates for private sector landlords in the borough, and covered recently by this site, here.

The agency scheme judges the companies according to which agents failed to: refund renters deposits, failed to pass on rental income to landlords, charged unreasonable fees or failed to address complaints.


4 stars for Romford Road's Century 21
70,000 Newham households are in the private rented sector - so a majority of local residents will have an interest in the results of the scheme's publication.

Newham's scheme is supported by major organisations with not-for-profit housing interests, such as Shelter, Peabody and Generation Rent - the campaigning body.

A brief summary of what lettings' agency practices are likely to attract what ratings would be:

0 stars - The agent would have attracted a relevant criminal conviction within the last five years. Newham has not award zero stars to any local agent, a fact we consider towards the end of this article.

1 star - Compliance failure with a local code of conduct, or receipt of a caution of inappropriate behaviour over the last two years.

2 stars - The agent has not been receipt of any compliance failure notice for a period of two years.

3 stars - The agent is a fully complaint business, with no recent failures or convictions.

3 stars at C&S of Romford Road 
- and while there, why not book
 a holiday?
4 stars - The agent is a fully compliant business and a member of at least one relevant professional body.

5 stars - A fully complaint business with no tenants' fees, or one which provides a credit ratings service for tenants.

No Forest Gate agency has achieved five stars. East Ham's McDowell's became the first in the borough to do so - coinciding with the publication of the scheme in October last year.

159 lettings agents are covered by the Newham scheme over the whole borough, including 28 in Forest Gate, of which:

3 (2%) in total - 0 in Forest Gate (0%)  - have 5 stars

44 (30%) in total - 3 in Forest Gate (11%) - have 4 stars

79 (52%) in total - 20 in Forest Gate (74%) - have 3 stars

8 (5%) in total - 1 in Forest Gate (4%) - have 2 stars

17 (11%) in total - 3 in Forest Gate (12%) - have 1 star

0 (0%) in total - 0 in Forest Gate (0%) - have 0 stars

9 (6%)  in total - 1 in Forest Gate (4%) - are pending a rating figure

The agents below are rated in alphabetical order within each star category

**** stars Forest Gate lettings agents

Century 21 - 450 Romford Road
Sparemove - 9 Railways Station Bridge, Woodgrange Road
Your Move - 176-7, Forest Lane


4 Stars - Your Move
*** stars Forest Gate lettings agents

Agha Properties/The Best Properties - 482 Katherine Road
Beautiful Estates - 438 Katherine Road
4 stars for Beautiful Estates
C+S Property - 520 Romford Road
CMS Homes - 503 Katherine Road -
Hamar Property Services - 299 Romford Road
Key 2 Key - 120 Upton Lane
3 for Key to Key
Knightsbridge Estates - 179 Forest Lane
Let, Sell, Property - 34 Green Street
Mak Property - 95 Woodgrange Road
Marvel Estates - 367 Katherine Road
Nest Property - 414 Katherine Road
Patrap Property Co - 202b Green Street
Phase Property Services - 89 Upton Lane


Phase Property Services - 89 Upton Lane

Remax (now called MasterClass Properties)- 471 Romford Road




























3 stars for Remax of Romford Road - now rebranded MasterClass properties

Saji Property Services - 196 Shrewsbury Road
Spencers - 70 Woodgrange Road
Stirling and Co - 29 Upton Lane
TS Property Services - 449 Katherine Road
Whites - 521 Katherine Road
Wilkinson's - 78 Woodgrange Road

** stars Forest Gate lettings agents

Ace Property Services - Citygate House, 246 Romford Road


A not so ace 2 stars for Ace Property Services
* star Forest Gate lettings agents

Godefred Property - 130 Upton Lane
Londinium - 400 Romford Road
Just 1 star for Londinium
M + M property - 501 Katherine Road

Big National names, elsewhere in Newham

Bairstow Eves (Stratford) - 4 stars
Haart (East Ham and Stratford) - 4 stars
Keatons (Stratford) - 4 stars
Century 21 (Stratford) - 2 stars
Foxton's (Stratford) - 1 star


A lowly one star for Straford's
"top end of the market" Foxton's
Old Friends

Newham Council has been a little coy in some of its categorisations. 

According to the criteria for each star, listed at the top of this article, lettings agents with relevant criminal convictions related to their business within the last five years, should be awarded zero stars under the scheme. Yet the council lists no agents with zero stars in its published details.

But, as we showed in our recent feature on local criminal landlords (see here for details), the council has successfully prosecuted three local lettings agents over the last year, for relevant offences. None, however, has been listed as having zero stars in the register that the council is proud to promote as challenging and innovative.  The council has fudged the issue. 


Filtons - despite criminal convictions,
 listed as "status pending"
Filton's - 190 High Street, Stratford and SM Properties 468, Katherine Road, are both of which are listed as status "pending inspection". Barclays Estates of Upton Lane - isn't listed at all in the council's register.  

The zero ratings these agencies should have been awarded would clearly have been very bad for business for them; surely, the whole purpose of the register.  The council's fudge, however, has meant that they can continue trading, apparently untarnished by a poor agency rating.

Filton's is a lettings agent, which is currently advertising 20 properties on its website - the vast majority in Newham.  The company clearly has a cavalier attitude to its business and social responsibilities. To quote its website:
We are an estate and property management group run by some of the most disruptive minds in the industry ... We .. play hard, without the bureaucracy (ed: like abiding by Housing legislation, apparently). ... We don't do uppity suits and fake smiles. That's why we're turning the industry upside down ... And we're pushing boundaries for clients with new revenue streams, managed short lets and award winning marketing .
The company's intolerance of the niceties of the law got them into trouble on 7 June 2017, when they were fined £5,000 for a failure to display accurately display their letting fees on their premises, as required by consumer protection law.

As we said in our article on Forest Gate's criminal landlords:
Any would-be tenant considering using Filton's is advised to search its Facebook presence. Its services are rated by 10 people - seven of them giving the firm only one star out of five.
SM Properties was fined £4,000 on 13 September 2017 for a failure to display its letting fees appropriately, within its premises.

Painful convictions for Katherine
 Road's SM properties, but Newham
 coyly leaves it as an agency "pending"
inspection, rather than giving it the
zero stars, as its classification
 criteria state it should have
Barclays Estates of 86 Upton Lane has been fined three times, following convictions instituted by the Council, but is not listed as even existing in the council's lettings agency register - see photo below as evidence to the contrary.




Above - Barclays Estates signage before
 the prosecutions, below, after prosecutions





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