The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) has released its proposals for the regulation of the property sector. It calls on the Government to introduce a new regulatory structure for those working in the lettings, sales and management of property.
It follows the ruling from the Advertising Standards Authority earlier this month which stated that letting agents must display information on fees in advertisements.
ARLA proposes an industry regulator to oversee different accredited industry bodies which would ensure their membership were signed up to a code of practice and able to demonstrate minimum requirements relating to qualifications, professional indemnity, client money protection and accounting governance.
Ian Potter, Managing Director of ARLA, said: “The private rented sector is becoming increasingly important, not only to the UK economy, but to the millions of tenants who rely on it for their homes. And it is being dangerously undermined by a minority of agents who fail to adhere to basic standards.
“Regulating the sector is a complete win-win. Tenants will get better quality property and have their rights and money protected, while the industry will be rid of unprofessional practice and enjoy a better reputation and the Government will have a simpler system to oversee and ultimately fewer disputes to resolve. Failure to regulate will mean that rogue agents will continue to blight the sector.”
Caroline Kenny, UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) Executive, said: "UKALA believes that regulation must be proportionate to the issues or problems it seeks to address and it appears that a more targeted response is necessary to challenge the negative experience of some and perception of many in the wider community." But she added that she did not believe that a central regulator is essential to ensure standards are met.
Earlier in the week, leading lettings agency firms met with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to discuss the implementation of the recent Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling on advertising of fees.
Isobel Thomson Chief Executive of NALS said: “Since the ASA ruling the industry has been trying to reach a conclusion as to how agents can comply. Given that the ultimate sanction the ASA has available is referral of non-compliant agents to the OFT or Trading Standards, it made sense to meet with them in light of their regulatory role at the earliest opportunity. We await to hear the outcome of their consideration of some of the practical issues raised.”