Around two thirds of landlords use letting agents in some way either to advertise a property to rent or to manage their properties – making them just as vulnerable to cowboy practices as tenants themselves.
Therefore, the RLA is backing calls by the communities and local government select committee to bring to an end the absurdity of letting agents being outside the regulatory system used for sales agents. Under the committee’s proposals published today, agents would have to meet certain minimum standards and the Office for Fair Trading could ban agents from operating where they are found to have acted improperly. Agents would also have to be upfront with tenants and landlords about the fees and charges they levy.
Whilst landlords are governed by over 100 laws and over 400 regulations, for too long the letting sector has remained unprofessional, unregulated and not transparent enough. Landlords should be able to have confidence that their agent is qualified to provide the best possible advice within a system that avoids agents being able to cease trading at a minute’s notice and run off with landlords’ and tenants’ money.
Commenting on the report’s conclusions, Richard Jones, the RLA’s policy director, said, “Almost 90 per cent of landlords in the country are either individuals or couples, many of which rely on letting agents to manage their properties properly. For too long these agents have been trusted with landlords’ and tenants’ monies without any robust regulatory system to protect it.
“The RLA agrees with the committee’s conclusions in this respect as the best route to tackle cowboy practices which have for too long been allowed to continue unhindered.”