All landlords in the private rented sector will soon have to subscribe to an industry ombudsman redress scheme - and agents will have to be qualified and regulated - according to an announcement at the recent Conservative Party conference.
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid used his speech in Manchester to reveal plans to improve regulation of the sector to better protect tenants and landlords.
As well as regulating letting agents, private landlords will have to become members of one of the three existing redress schemes that agents currently have to join - either in their own right or through a letting agent. The aim is to improve the way disputes are managed and resolved, allowing quicker and fairer decisions for all parties.
Daniel Dowling, technical and compliance director at property specialist Leaders, says: “We are delighted to see the government taking action on this at last. Over the thirty-four years we have been involved in the lettings industry, we have seen far too many landlords and tenants get their fingers badly burnt by incompetent or unscrupulous agents. There has been case after shocking case of agents misusing tenants’ deposits, failing to pay rent over to landlords, ignoring regulations and often disappearing with thousands of pounds worth of clients’ money, never to be seen again.
“At the same time, it has been far too easy for rogue landlords to get away with exploiting tenants who have no means of redress. We, along with many other reputable agents, have been calling for better regulation of the industry for many years. Everybody has a right to feel safe and secure when letting or renting a property and this comes from ensuring landlords and agents are fully accountable and follow best practice.
“As long-standing members of ARLA Propertymark, we have always been regulated by them; our membership includes Client Money Protection and the requirement to abide by a strict code of conduct. We believe all agents should have to abide by the same high standards and we look forward to seeing the full detail of these plans.”
The Association of Residential Letting Agents has also welcomed the decision to regulate the private rented sector, although it warned regulation can take different forms and the details must be seen before it can be confident of it working for landlords and tenants.
The government has now launched a consultation process - formally, a ‘call for evidence’ - which will run until 29th November. Detailed proposals will be brought forward early next year.
For more information or advice on any aspect of letting or renting a property contact your local Leaders branch.