After eighteen months of hard studying, my colleague Donna Waldron and I finally completed all four of our ARLA exams and are now officially ‘ARLA qualified’, which means that we can both become licenced members and join our team-mates on the office ‘Wall of Honour’!
When I started at Sewell & Gardner, the importance of these exams was bestowed on me almost immediately, basically if I was going to build a career with Sewell & Gardner then becoming ARLA was imperitive! This surprised me initially as I know that most other agents only put their senior members of staff through these qualifications.
Eighteen months on and the importance is clear to me! Personally my job role involves dealing with all departments of lettings & management, and now I am confident in the knowledge I am imparting to clients, regardless of whether I am discussing a new deal, a check-out, a management issue or a renewal. Likewise, if you are on the other end of the phone to me then you can be sure you are getting competent, qualified, 100% accurate advice.
All of the lettings team at Sewell & Gardner are qualified, or are currently studying for their exams. Lettings is an ever changing business, with legislation at every turn, if you are dealing with a letting agent who is not qualified, then you have to ask yourself whether you should be confident in the information you are being given! I should know; I’ve just had to learn at least 50 separate acts of legislation in order to pass!
As a Landlord, unless you are planning to learn these laws yourself, then it really does pay to choose an ARLA qualified & regulated agent and also ask the person you are speaking to whether they are personally qualified because many ARLA licensed agencies just have one qualified person per branch.
Most of the lettings & management legislation carries hefty fines or prison sentences, so you honestly DO NOT want to get it wrong! The Sewell & Gardner crew are qualified so that you don’t have to be! Our management team take that one step further and will act upon all your obligations for you, truly taking the stress out of lettings.
Although my boss Jane Gardner is already a Fellow of ARLA and has passed legal exams and helps to train our team, she is also studying for her higher qualification, so I have asked her to write a few words about how she is getting along….
At the ripe old age of 40 (something (cough, cough…..) I am back to the study books and have started my ARLA level 4 Certificate in Residential Lettings & Property Management. Everyone who knows me is surprised that I have agreed to go back to studying, and I have to say I tend to agree with them….! Running a business, a family & a home (not to mention a few pets too) I barely have time to breathe some days, so the prospect of going home at 9pm, cooking dinner and then opening up the study books to learn all about the varied legislation covering our wonderful industry, the pitfalls & penalties, the trials & tribulations and the highs & the lows of lettings, is certainly something which could be construed as ‘mad’!
However, as an employer who genuinely believes that there are far too many unqualified letting agents or uneducated landlords around, I insist that ALL of my lettings staff take their legal exams so I think it is only fair that I lead by example and be one step ahead with the advanced exams! Of course, the brain capacity for cramming in all of this extra knowledge, isn’t quite what it was the last time I studied for exams almost a decade ago, so this time around I am finding it quite a struggle I have to admit.
The qualification that I am taking is in 6 sections and I have to sit a two and a half hour exam for each section (2 multiple choice style and 4 essay style). If (once …let’s be optimistic…) I pass, all of the exams, then the qualification I have gained will be equivalent to a BTEC Professional Diploma Certificate, a Higher National Certificate or an NVQs at level 4, and it is certified by the NFoPP Awarding Body and approved by ARLA. I have 18 months in which to achieve the full qualification, so I am on schedule with 2 down and 4 to go!
So I hope that you all wish me luck with my remaining modules, and if you see me opening a bottle of champagne or two in a year’s time, you can guess I might have actually finished (or even passed if I work hard enough)!