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Industry broadly welcomes new regulation but 'devil is in the detail'

The Association of Residential Letting Agents has welcomed the government commitment to introduce regulation for agencies - but it is warning that the devil is in the detail.

So far no specifics have been released of the regulation regime, announced on Sunday at the Conservative party conference.  

“After 20 years of our campaigning falling on deaf ears, we’re very pleased the government has taken the decision to regulate the private rented sector. This will be the single greatest step forward in a generation, in terms of consumer protection for private tenants, and will do more to clean up the image of the industry than the hundreds of smaller laws and pieces of legislation introduced over the last 20 years” says David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark. 

However, he adds that “regulation can take different forms and we need to see the detail of proposal to be confident that it will be effective for tenants and landlords.”

Glynis Frew, chief executive of Hunters and chair of the regulation group on the Lettings Industry Council, says: “The industry has been campaigning for these changes for many years, but it is not surprising that our voices are now being heard. I have seen so many people from various parts of the industry come together in their demand for more regulation – whether this be landlords, agents or redress and deposit schemes. However, execution is key and whilst there is still a lot to do, the energy and positivity backing these changes is overwhelming.” 

The parliamentary affairs manager at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Lewis Johnston, says: "Sajid Javid’s announcement on regulation of the private rental sector is welcome. RICS have continuously stressed the need for a fully functioning private rental sector to maintain a healthy market and have consistently called for a more professionalised sector held to higher standards. This has been reflected in Javid’s commitment to ensure all letting agents are subject to professional oversight.”

Consumer group Citizens Advice has also backed the announcement that landlords, as well as agents, must become members of an approved redress organisation.

Gillian Guy, CA chief executive says: “For people paying high rents for homes in a poor condition there needs to be an easier and cheaper option to be heard - which is why it’s welcome that the government has recognised the need for renters to have access to a redress scheme, bringing it into line with other consumer markets. It's important that the scheme is free to access and available for any type of dispute.”

Citizens Advice is also calling for it to be a requirement that properties meet a national minimum health and safety standard before landlords can let them out.

  • Mark Wilson

    Isn't it great, we all seem to want more regulation!

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    The devil need not be in the detail, it can be very simple indeed .... "all residential lettings to be handled via a regulated agent or landlord". That's it.

    Its easy enough for a lettings agent to become a fully licensed agent, regulated via ARLA. If a private landlord has a large enough portfolio to treat it as a business and train to become licensed (and get insured against non-compliance as we must) then fair enough but most would do the sensible thing ie remain a private landlord but admit its a professional business and so deal via a proper, compliant lettings agent.

    Nothing complex to this and the additional business that agents would get could mitigate the lost income from any ban on fees to tenants for costs properly incurred.

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    I bought my first property when rates where not good and had to subsidise it for 18 months. I could not afford to pay an agent yet still did things properly and do not think it fair that people who may be in similar positions are penalised.

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