It appears that more calls for regulation in the private rented sector are once again falling on deaf ears, with the Government stating that existing legislation is sufficient.
Baroness Hanham believes that the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 is adequate in protecting tenants. The legislation applies to letting and sales agents.
Hanham also stated that the number of voluntary bodies was another reason why a full regulation of the private rented sector is not necessary.
Consumer protection legislation
Responding to calls for legislation in order to protect young, vulnerable people who cannot raise a sufficient deposit for a home, Baroness Hanham said: “Letting and managing agents are already subject to consumer protection legislation.”
Continuing, she said: “Consumer protection legislation covers issues such as giving false or misleading information, not acting with the standard care and skill that is in accordance with honest market practice, and claiming falsely to be a member of a professional body or approved redress scheme.”
Baroness Hanham believes that sufficient measures are already in place so that, “tenants or landlords who are charged unfair or unreasonable fees by an agent,” are able to “report this to their local trading standards officer.” Alternatively, these issues can be reported to the “Office of Fair Trading, which has both civil and criminal enforcement powers.”
Furthermore, Baroness Hanham stated that between one third and half of all letting agents are members of a voluntary scheme. She said that these schemes “set standards and offer redress if things go wrong”, before categorically stating, “in light of these existing schemes, we have no current plans to introduce further statutory regulation.”
Offering an explanation, she went on to say: “Disproportionate regulation on the private rental sector would push up rents and reduce the choice and availability of accommodation on offer to tenants.”