MPs call for urgent action to stop 'cowboy' letting agents
Report suggests regulation for letting agents should be at same level as for estate agents
Alex Johnson has been part of The Independent's online team since 2007. He has been writing about microarchitecture on his internationally-acclaimed Shedworking blog since 2006 and is the author of Shedworking: The Alternative Workplace Revolution. His latest book is Bookshelf, published by Thames & Hudson.
Thursday 18 July 2013
Action is needed to tackle "sharp practice and abuse by letting
agents", according to a report from the Communities and Local Government Committee
published today that proposes bringing regulation for letting agents up to the
level of that for estate agents. This would give the Office of Fair Trading the
power to ban agents and bring in new rules to
ensure the safety of landlords’ and tenants’ money.
Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, said: "Amazingly, letting agents are subject to less control than estate agents. This lack of regulation is giving rise to sharp practice and abuse. We were told that the letting sector was the property industry’s ‘Wild West’.’Cowboy’ agents who rip off landlords and tenants have to be stopped. They need to play by new rules or get out of the sector."
The Report calls for action on hidden and unreasonable fees and charges imposed by letting agents and urges that agents should be required to tell tenants about fees before they start the letting process. In addition, all property listings and advertisements should list in full the fees a tenant would have to pay.
The Committee also argues that barriers to longer tenancies should be removed. In return for offering longer tenancies, landlords should be able to evict tenants much more quickly when they fail to pay their rent.
"Too often, the security desired by many families is not available within the private rented sector," said Clive Betts. "We heard from one father whose 10 year old daughter had already had to move home seven times in her life. We have to overcome the barriers to longer tenancies. Letting agents should not be chasing renewal fees. Instead they should be working to ensure the length of tenancies meets the needs of both tenants and landlords. In addition, mortgage lenders should remove conditions that limit tenancies to one year.I want to see renting as an attractive alternative to owner occupation. The market has to better meet the needs of renters."
Caroline Kenny, executive at The UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) generally welcomed the report. "We’ve long thought that we need bespoke solutions to increase accountability and transparency within the lettings sector. We also echo the report’s call to make Client Money Protection insurance and Professional Indemnity Insurance mandatory for all letting agents.
"The issue of fees is more complex than generally assumed. In principle, there are some fees which agents could display on property advertisements. However, others are more complex and would need to be calculated according to individual circumstances. No two properties or households are the same, which makes it very difficult to operate a business according to standard ‘book prices’. However, it may be possible for letting agents to provide a ‘price list’ of the variable fees so that the tenant is aware of what they could be liable for in the end”.
Isobel Thomson, Chief Executive of National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), said: "What is being proposed here is a common-sense approach to improving the consumer experience of renting and letting. There are too many examples of agents who close down with missing funds, only to reopen again and we would therefore welcome with open arms the enhancement of powers to ban such agents and the proposal to make client money protection and professional indemnity insurance mandatory."
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000
A three-bedroom, coach house with luxury open-plan living space and contemporary breakfast bar
A newly refurbished one-bedroom flat in the heart of Mayfair, close to Grosvenor Square
A charming four-bedroom house overlooking Burleigh Square Park, close to Thorpe Bay
A three-bedroom farmhouse with a large inglenook fireplace and exposed beams
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
Life & Style blogs
Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
- 1 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 2 Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 3 Thatcher ‘was warned of Tory child sex party claims’
- 4 Lauren Goodger sex tape: Reality star calls for tougher laws on revenge porn after intimate video leaks online
- 5 The Simpsons Family Guy trailer: First look at crossover episode after Comic-Con debut
£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: PHP / MySQL Developer (PHP, MySQL...
£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: C# Back-End Developer (C#, .NET, ...
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Web Developer (C#, HTML5, CSS3, J...
£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: C# Software Developer (C#, front-...