Finally – A Redress System For Lettings
Following a change of mind from the coalition, MPs have just approved rules designed to protect consumers from rogue letting agents.
The Government is to introduce an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, which would require all letting agents to sign up to an approved redress scheme. This will afford greater protection to tenants and landlords, giving them an avenue for restitution. Currently, letting and managing agents only sign up to these complaints schemes voluntarily.
Calls for legislation have intensified in the past few years following significant shifts in the UK housing market. There are now 3.8m households privately renting in England, compared with 1.9m in 2001. All letting agents will now be forced to sign up to an approved redress scheme, the first time that the sector has been regulated.
The largest such body is The Property Ombudsman (TPO), which is able to rule on various complaints, but only if the agent in question is signed up to its scheme. As with residential sales, if the Ombudsman finds fault with an agent, it can recommend financial redress to the tenant and or landlord, which is binding. Some are continuing to argue for further regulation, including the power to ban lettings agents.
Recent research found that 62% of tenants and nearly half of landlords didn’t know whether their letting agent was a member of a professional body. Approximately 40% of all lettings agents are currently not members of any redress scheme.
The Guild of Professional Estate Agents has always insisted that every one of its members has Professional Indemnity in place, and is a member of a recognised redress scheme. It also provides free online training and examinations to ensure that everybody across the network is able to offer appropriate advice and guidance. Leading experts on lettings legislation and best practice regularly present at its conferences and local meetings, so that every office is kept fully up to date on their responsibilities.