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New landlord regulations

Last week, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) sent out letters to all relevant trade bodies regarding new landlord regulations, with guidance on how to ensure lettings ads refrain from displaying misleading prices.  To prevent tenants from being landed with unexpected non-refundable fees and charges, which they may not be able to afford, CAP has informed all letting agents and private landlords that all costs must be included in the “asking rent” for the property and displayed prominently on all advertising material.

The regulations come after several landlords have been caught charging one price to draw in potential tenants, before piling on the costs of admin fees and inventory charges at a later date.  As the Chief Executive for the Advertising Standards Authority, Guy Parker, has noted, renting is a “big financial commitment” and becoming more and more common in the UK, as people are unable to afford the cost of buying.  To hide costs in the early stages, only for them to “hit tenants in the pocket at a time when they need every penny they’ve got” is simply not fair. 

From 1st November 2013, websites, property portals and other forms of media advertising will be monitored by the appropriate authorities and any listings which do not include all relevant pricing and fees will be subject to follow-up action.  At Mistoria, we are proud to say that with our costs, what you see is what you get.  Our fees per month or per week are exactly that, with no hidden charges or nasty surprises.  We agree with the ASA, that people should be aware of their monthly or weekly costs and should be able to plan their expenses.  Trust between tenants and landlords is essential and hopefully the new scheme will reduce the number of unreliable landlords ripping off unsuspecting tenants.

Whether you are a landlord and would like to know more about our property management services, or a tenant looking for a room or property to rent, feel free to contact us on 0800 500 3015 to find out more about what Mistoria Estate Agents have to offer.  Alternatively, you can contact us via our website.

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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.