Industry leaders and consumer representatives including the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the property ombudsman, Which? and landlords association ARLA have welcomed the decision in the House of Lords to introduce an amendment in law to help protect tenants and regulate the lettings industry.
These organisations and others 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, the government is now being pressed to implement the changes.
The change to the 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:
Extend 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.
Require all agents to have clear and free consumer redress mechanisms in place
Stop sales agents who have been banned from trading to immediately set up a new business as a lettings and/or managing agent.
RICS residential director Peter Bolton-King said: “We have 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.
ARLA managing director Ian Potter said: “We all look forward to working with government on the Bill as it moves back to the Commons for final approval”.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd added: “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.”