Due to the huge demand for private rented accommodation throughout the UK, more and more landlords are choosing to expand their property portfolios and enlisting the help of letting agents in order to manage their houses and tenants. However, there have been complaints from both landlords and tenants over rogue letting agents who charge large fees yet do not provide the services they promised, which has led to the government deciding to introduce regulations for all letting agents.
Unlike estate agents, letting agents are currently unregulated by the Office of Fair Trading, however there are some that have voluntarily signed up to licencing schemes such as Arla, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, The UK Association of Letting Agents and the government-backed National Approved Letting Scheme. Last week the House of Lords voted in favour of regulating the industry, and if the House of Commons agree the regulations could come into effect as early as next spring.
In an interview with the financial times, Lady Hayter, a Labour peer who spearheaded the amendment, said: “This is the right thing to do for tenants and landlords. The government says they want to increase the private rental sector but you will only bring in new landlords if they feel confident that a letting agent will look after their property properly, will choose good tenants and won’t run away with their money. This is good for the private rental sector.”
Those who work in the lettings industry also welcomed the move, with managing director of the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (Arla), Ian Potter, said: “The news that the House of Lords is in favour of regulating the lettings industry marks a significant win for professional lettings agents up and down the country, who are doing a good job every day, but whose reputation is being tarnished by rogue agents.” Over the past five years The Property Ombudsman has seen complaints concerning letting agents double, and last year there were around eight thousand complaints from landlords and tenants.
Landlords can generally rely on their landlord insurance policy to help them with court costs and legal fees if they want to file a dispute against their letting agent, however due to the lack of regulations at the moment many cases are often thrown out. Hopefully, the introduction of new regulations for letting agents will not only improve the industry’s reputation but also benefit those letting and renting private rented accommodation.