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Lettings Regulations explained – what to expect from the new procedures

Formerly, a general lack of regulation in the lettings industry has resulted in some tenants and landlords falling foul of unscrupulous methods, with a reported 40% of letting agents failing to sign up to self-regulation.  The recent changes to the laws governing the lettings industry have stated that, going forward, all lettings agents will be required to register with an Ombudsman, the objective being to uphold best practice and to ensure than both tenant and landlord are better protected.    

Under the new regulations, failure to register with an Ombudsman can potentially result in civil or criminal penalties for agents.  It is believed the amendments will come into force in autumn of this year.  When this is so, should tenants wish to lodge a complaint, they will be able to do so through the appropriate channels.  Prior to addressing an Ombudsman, tenants are being advised to firstly: 

– Ensure that the firm is infact registered with the Ombudsman.

– Ensure that the tenant has written in complaint to the firm in the first instance.

Under the new regulations, any complaint should be investigated within an eight week period, following which, if unresolved, the matter can be referred to the Ombudsman.  If a firm has written to a tenant and the outcome is deemed ‘unsatisfactory’, the case can again, be referred to the Ombudsman.  Sending copies of all correspondence and supportive documentation to the Ombudsman is advised.

However, there are certain matters that cannot be handled by the Ombudsman, these being:

– If your complaint is not against a registered agent.

– If your complaint is being handled by a court or similar body.

– Your complaint refers to an incident prior to the agent joining the lettings part of the TPO (The Property Ombudsman) scheme or more than 12 months before you complained in writing to the agent.

– Your complaint is referred to the Ombudsman more than 6 months following the date of the agent’s final correspondence.

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Regulation of Letting Agents

Landlords and tenants are to be better protected by rogue letting agents under new government legislation.

A recent amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill has introduced the regulation of letting agents. Until now letting agents have not been legally required to be a member of an ombudsman scheme, despite the huge sums of money the industry handles each year.

It’s thought prior to this new legislation up to 40 per cent of letting agents did not sign-up to self regulation.

This made the situation difficult when things went wrong.  Tenants and landlords now have the chance to get money they are owed back from rogue agents without resorting to the courts.

Mistoria Estate Agents welcomes tighter regulation, we believe until now many agents have been able to operate with impunity as consumers have had no way of addressing the actions of unscrupulous or negligent agents.

Lady Hayter, the Labour peer who has led the campaign for lettings regulation comments,

“While this is definitely a step in the right direction, I think it’s a shame that the government stopped short of introducing full regulation of the lettings industry.”

Ian Potter, managing director of the Association of Residential Lettings Agents says,

“The government’s amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill marks a positive move for the private rented sector and in particular, for consumers, who only stand to benefit from a formal system of redress. However it is vital that the Government begins the process of consultation quickly, taking on board the views of the sector and moves to introduce secondary legislation as soon as possible.”

It’s hoped this new legislation will come into effect by the autumn, following a consultation with both industry and consumer groups.

If you have a property you would like us to manage for you, please get in touch. Call us on 0161 707 6106. We look forward to hearing from you.