I decided to try and answer a few questions for myself.
- Just how much data, exactly, are letting agents collecting prior to instruction?
- How much of this data is regulated/subject to compliance rules?
- What risks, issues and problems have I seen agents encounter surrounding these data points?
I found that for a potential new business enquiry involving a single individual landlord, an agent is already looking at collecting over 110 fields of data with 72 of these within regulatory scope of at least 14 acts of parliament, where malpractice in collecting or handling this data, either deliberate or accidental, can lead to unlimited fines, fines chargeable to company officers, and/or prosecution leading to criminal liability and potentially jail time !
It’s easy to think you’d have to be a bad egg indeed to get sent down to funky town on a charge sheet for “didn’t collect data properly”. I’ve never met anyone yet in the industry who isn’t trying to do their best work for their clients. But the potential value and opportunity for fraud within property transactions can bring criminals to you, who may be attempting to launder money or fund terrorism. We need to be vigilant and thorough in our checks on who we are doing business with and ensure continuous compliance.
I’ve decided to share my analysis as a spreadsheet with the community as a resource to help those in and out of the industry understand:
- The day-to-day challenges faced by negotiators and valuers as they look to onboard new business. There’s a lot of information there to gather and we don’t want to burden our new prospective landlord with doing too much of this.
- What regulations apply to data collected by agents. Disclaimer – this document is a research piece, not legal advice. It may be inaccurate (I hope someone will tell me if I’ve made any obvious mistakes!) or out of date. Speak to your legal team to ensure you are currently compliant.
- What risks apply to onboarding data during and after collection.
If you find this useful, please let me know. You can find me over on LinkedIn.