Next year's deadline for all letting agencies in
England to join an ombudsman scheme has taken a step closer to
In a clarification on what the measures will entail, the
Government said that 'Compulsory redress schemes for these agents
will ensure agents can be investigated where they have not been
clear about fees or other issues, and will provide a cheaper,
easier way to pursue compensation if there is a complaint'.
According to the rules, agencies may be investigated if:
- Fees and charges are not clearly stated in all property adverts
and communicated to clients early.
- Those fees and charges are disproportionate to the service that
the agent has provided.
- They fail to comply with the Consumer Protection from Unfair
Trading Regulations (2008), which states that all agencies must
'take all reasonable steps' to make their property descriptions
accurate and not misleading.
- Any 'critical information' (repairs or maintenance issues, for
instance) is not brought to the client's attention before the
The Government also suggested that more redress schemes may be
set up alongside the TPO and Ombudsman schemes already operating.
Whilst they would not be able to force a code of practise,
landlords and tenants would be able to complain if the voluntary
code was not adhered to.
That is so that entry into the schemes is available to all. They
must also commit to being impartial, fully staffed, free for
landlords and tenants, easily accessible, transparent in their
reporting and knowledgeable on lettings law.
Kris Hopkins, one of the housing ministers behind the bill, had
this to say about the new rules: 'Private rented homes play an
important role in providing flexible accommodation to many
hard-working people who either do not want to buy or who are saving
up for a deposit.'
'Having a redress scheme will provide confidence to both tenants
and landlords that any problems with letting agents can be cheaply
and swiftly resolved and provides an alternative to the court
'The conditions we are publishing set out our view of what needs
to be considered in setting up a redress scheme that can give peace
of mind to many people living and operating in the private rented
sector and in leasehold accommodation.'
'Residential leaseholders and freeholders also now have
somewhere they can go to resolve the day-to-day management problems
that can arise with managing agents, without having to resort to a
tribunal or court.'
'We aim for schemes to come forward for approval throughout
January 2014 and urge agents to join one before it becomes a
'The suggested conditions follow the recent publication of a
tenants' charter for the private rented sector, which ensures all
tenants know what to expect from their tenancy and, if something
goes wrong, where to go for help.'
'This includes greater transparency about lettings agents' fees,
helping to stop unreasonable practices and unfair charges, and
ensuring would-be tenants know the full costs before they sign up
to any contract.'