UK Government says Letting Agents to be Regulated At Last!

But saying is one thing; doing anything is another!

While we all wait, renters should be robustly 

represented by relocation professionals

By: Tony Coe

Tony.Coe@saunders1865.com

Many of the clients that we help to find rental homes in the UK can’t believe how are letting agency industry works - charging outrageous “admin” fees to renters, ignoring requests for repairs and refusing to return deposits without proper cause to name 3 common complaints.  But they are even more shocked when they find out that the industry is unregulated and just about anybody can set up in business as a letting agent literally overnight.

So in a recent announcement at the UK Conservative party conference, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid declared that all letting agents across England will have to be registered under new legislation.

It means that the days of anyone being able to set up as a letting agent – even if they have just come out of jail after stealing deposits or have no experience of the sector – will (hopefully, someday!) finally end.

I put it that way because the Government announced as long ago as November 2016 that it would be banning letting agents from charging fees to tenants but there still no sign of the actual ban coming into force.  Talk is cheap!

I certainly hope this legislation actually arrives and that it’s properly thought through taking on board the views of relocation professionals like us that represent the small percentage of renters that can afford to be represented.

Sajid Javid said in his announcement that government will change the law so that all agents must register with an appropriate organisation, satisfy minimum training requirements and comply with an industry code of conduct.  There’s a lot of detail that’s yet to come out – and, I suspect, even be thought about.  The way government works that will take years.

Additionally, private landlords are also to face regulation, with Javid announcing that they must all become members of a redress scheme – either in their own right or through a letting agent.  He also said,  “We will change the law…giving all tenants access to quick and easy dispute resolution over issues like repairs and maintenance.”

Amen to that, but when?

Further, a new court of law, specifically dealing with housing issues could be set up, with Javid saying that there will be a consultation with the judiciary.

“For too long tenants have felt unable to resolve the issues they’ve faced, be it insecure tenure, unfair letting agents’ fees or poor treatment by their landlord with little to no means of redress.  We’re going to change that.  Everyone has a right to feel safe and secure in their own homes and we will make sure they do.”

You will have got the message that I don’t have a great deal of confidence in this government’s ability to deliver on any of these promises any time soon.  I think they just wanted something positive to say during a dismal week at the Conservatives Party Conference.

In the meantime, people being moved to the UK for business will need to rely on their employers to provide proper home finding support and renter representation.  It certainly pays dividends for our corporate clients as they will happily attest.

If you move people to the UK for work, you should talk to us.  If you, yourself, are moving to the UK, so should you.  We have VIP-level support programs to suit every circumstance and budget

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