SEVERAL institutions have welcomed the House of Lords’ decision to introduce an amendment in law to help protect tenants and regulate the lettings industry. These include the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the property ombudsman, Which? and the Association of Residential Letting Agents, or ARLA.
These organisations have long campaigned for the regulation of the lettings industry, working with MPs and peers to highlight problems and inconsistencies in current legislation which is having a detrimental effect on consumers and business. Following the House of Lords’ vote, these institutions are now looking to the government to implement much-needed changes.
The proposed new law will give tenants much-needed access to redress in the event of poor practice, and helps raise standards in the lettings market. In addition it will:
lExtend consumer protection measures governing estate agents to letting agents, giving the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) powers to ban sales, lettings and managing agents who act improperly.
lRequire all agents to have clear and free consumer redress mechanisms in place, and
lPrevent sales agents who have been banned from immediately setting up a new business as a lettings and/or managing agent.
Peter Bolton-King, RICS residential director said: “RICS has long called for the regulation of the lettings industry, given that ultimately, this is about the provision of shelter, a basic human requirement. This decision is one step nearer to this vital change becoming law.”
Ian Potter, ARLA managing director, added: “We all look forward to working with Government on the Bill as it moves back to the Commons for final approval.”
Christopher Hamer, the Property Ombudsman, said: “From my experience of disputes that arise between consumers and letting agents this is a welcome and positive step that could see the 40 per cent of agents currently not registered with TPO or affiliated to a professional body, brought within a framework of standards.
“This will mean greater protection for a greater number of consumers.”
And Richard Lloyd, Executive Director of Which? concluded: “Renting is now the only housing option for millions, and our research has shown this market is dogged by poor practice and there is an alarming lack of consumer protection. Tenants deserve much better and the Government must take this opportunity to improve regulation and redress in this sector. We want letting agents to be covered by the same rules as estate agents, overseen by an independent ombudsman.”