Would The Regulation Of Letting Agents Benefit UK Economy?
Currently, anyone can set up a lettings agency – and with the rental sector booming it can be an attractive market for unscrupulous agents. Landlords and tenants alike should always check that the agent they are using follows a code of conduct and is governed by a professional body to ensure a minimum level of professional standards.
Recent research undertaken by The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) shows that compulsory regulation of lettings agents combined with the introduction of minimum professional standards for all agents could generate over £20m of benefits per year to the UK economy. Its research suggests that setting up compulsory regulation and a system of professional standards equivalent to NVQ Level 3 would cost an initial one-off £45m plus £639,000 annual running costs, before the payback of £20m annually.
The RICS says that the issue of regulation in the lettings sector is moving quickly up the political agenda with both Labour and the Liberal Democrats set to make it a manifesto commitment in 2015.
Peter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, said: “These findings demonstrate exactly why the Government needs to act, not just to safeguard the thousands of tenants and landlords who fall victim to unscrupulous practice, but also to relieve pressure on the wider economy”.
“It’s encouraging that the introduction of professional standards and new compulsory regulation proposals being sought by RICS has support from other industry players and consumer groups, and has now received cross-party support. But what we need now is action”.
“RICS has long called for a single regulatory and redress system for letting agents, which this survey demonstrates is clearly supported by the overwhelming majority of consumers. Until this happens, we recommend that tenants use a lettings agent that is a member of a professional organisation, such as the RICS.”