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Graham Awards


Government urged to co-ordinate lettings reforms, not be scattergun

A leading PropTech entrepreneur says he welcomes reforms currently moving through Parliament to professionalise the lettings sector - but he wants them to be implemented as a co-ordinated whole and not in a scattergun, piecemeal fashion.

Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer of automated payment system PayProp in the UK, says the proposed mandatory code of practice and national qualification for letting agents, the plans for ongoing professional development and training for agents as well as increased support for leaseholders add up to a good package.

Being enforced by a 'new independent regulator', with those failing to comply risking being banned from trading and serious offenders facing possible prosecution is also welcome, insists Cobbold.


But he says implementing them in a co-ordinated and logical fashion will be a challenge.

“With so many new measures being introduced over a short period of time, it's crucial that the government takes a holistic and considered approach to ensure maximum effectiveness" says Cobbold.

He believes the case is made clearer because in addition to newly-announced measures, there are longer-standing commitments such as the deposit cap and fees ban, banning orders for rogue agents and landlords, and compulsory Client Money Protection. 

"A piecemeal or scattergun approach could be counterproductive, leaving agents and consumers in the dark," he warns.

"From announcement to introduction, it will have taken well over two years for the ban on fees to be implemented which may lead the industry to believe a similar timescale may be expected for these new measures. 

"What's more, it's unclear at this stage whether the new independent regulator will work alongside or independently of the existing redress schemes and how much the maximum fines for the worst offenders will be" explains Cobbold. 

However, Cobbold believes that once introduced, the measures will help to create a more professional lettings sector with a strong focus on protecting consumers' money.

"Minimum standards will help to rid the sector of rogue agents and effective adoption of technology can facilitate improved levels of professionalism across the industry" he concludes.


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