At present, it is not obligatory for letting agents to have formal training.
The Government are proposing that agents must register with an approved organisation, obey a code of conduct, and participate in continuous professional development.
The Government aim to wipe out unlawful practise, and could use the Property Ombudsman’s scheme as a basis for letting agent regulation.
The Government have announced that they hope to formalise their plans in the autumn. Measures that letting agents will have to take will follow.
Lately, Scotland has ended agent fees, and Wales has proposed a national, compulsory registration and licencing scheme for all landlords, letting and management agents in the private rental sector.
Housing charity Shelter would like to see an end to agent fees, and Which? Would like tenants to have better protection. Landlords also would like to feel secure in who they are giving their property to for management.
Which? suggest that letting agents should be clearer with their charges. The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has made new guidance and proposed regulation for this issue.
The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), and others, offers letting agent courses around the country. However, just one member of staff from an agency has to have taken the course for them to be accredited.
The new scheme planned by the Government expects a foundation level of professionalism in this market.
The Office of Fair Trading has received a rising number of complaints from the Property Ombudsman. These have increased by 26% in 2011.1
The number of complains against non-Property Ombudsman members is also growing.2 This signifies mounting dissatisfaction from tenants.
ARLA trainer, Dave Absalom, says: “My concern here is that, as a complaint cannot be made to the Property Ombudsman until the agent complaint process has been exhausted, many agents are simply fobbing off complaints.”1
By making agents, landlords, tenants, and authorities work better together the housing market would see many benefits.