Transparency for landlords and tenants as rogue agents taken to task
In a move that will be welcomed by landlords and tenants, the government will soon require all letting agents to publish full details of the fees they charge.
The changes, which will be introduced as an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill, are intended to stamp out the practice, employed by a small number of rogue agents, of imposing hidden charges. The new rules will require letting agents to publish a full tariff of their fees, both on their website and prominently in their offices. Those who ignore the rules will be fined.
Later in 2014, all letting and property management agents will be required to join three redress schemes, which will give tenants and leaseholders a clear way to hold their agents to account.
The redress schemes – the Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services Property and the Property Redress Scheme – will investigate complaints about hidden fees and poor service. Where a complaint is found to be valid, tenants and leaseholders could receive compensation.
The government will review the changes after 12 months to check if they are working, and decide whether further steps are needed.
Gaby Hardwicke Senior Associate Solicitor Melanie Verth (pictured) commented: “In a profession overshadowed by criticism about unfair charges and unfair profits, the changes envisaged can only make things clearer for all parties involved. The added threat of being fined should help stamp out agents’ unreasonable charges and will be a step closer to regulating a profession that can be subject to abuse by a minority.
“The promise of review in 12 months’ time illustrates the commitment by the government to help both landlords and tenants in a time where residential lettings are in great demand.”
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Posted: 22 May 2014
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