Posts with tag: letting agents

Trading Standards Clamps Down on Landlords and Letting Agents in London

Published On: September 14, 2018 at 8:04 am


Categories: Lettings News

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Trading Standards services in London are warning landlords and letting agents to ensure that they are complying with the law and not overcharging tenants, after several agents in the capital were found to be non-compliant with the requirement to display their fees and other information.

The warning arrives on the final day of LTS (London Trading Standards) Week, which ran from 10th-14th September, with a view to promoting and raising awareness of the wide range of work conducted by Trading Standards services across the capital.

A recent analysis of 137 letting agent websites, carried out by LTS, revealed that many agents in the capital are not being transparent about their fees and how they protect tenants’ money.

The LTS found that more than half (53%) were not displaying a Client Money Protection (CMP) statement, 37% were not showing landlord fees and 31% were not displaying tenant fees, despite the fact that providing this information became a legal requirement three years ago.

Trading Standards Clamps Down on Landlords and Letting Agents in London

Trading Standards Clamps Down on Landlords and Letting Agents in London

Despite housing and private renting being the number one issue for London residents, the LTS reports that there is a low level of reporting of problems with letting agents.

The Under-Secretary of State for Housing and Homelessness, Heather Wheeler MP, comments: “Working with Trading Standards teams in London and across the country, we are stopping rogue landlords and agents in their tracks.

“The new measures in our Tenant Fees Bill will save renters around £240m a year, by banning unfair letting fees and capping tenancy deposits.”

She adds: “On top of this, new regulations will keep renters’ money safe by only allowing letting agents that join a Government-approved Client Money Protection scheme to handle their money.”

The LTS is advising those who experience or know of a letting agent acting unfairly to report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040 506, which will pass it on to the relevant Trading Standards service.

Martin Harland, the Chair of the LTS Lettings Group, says: “Rental costs in the capital are high and, for too long, a significant number of letting agents and landlords have been getting away with rip-offs.

“To help us get the big picture and start tackling the rogues, we need to know who is causing problems in the London market. So, please report it to help sort it.”

Tenants are reminded to use the following when looking for a place to rent:

  • The Pat’s Flat poster, produced by the Consumer Empowerment Alliance, illustrates what to look for when renting a flat.
  • The Government’s How to Rent guide is an invaluable resource to help tenants avoid being ripped off.
  • The Mayor of London’s Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker is a tool unique to the capital, which lists enforcement action taken against landlords and letting agents to help tenants avoid using them.

The Deputy Mayor of London for Housing & Residential Development, James Murray, gives his thoughts: “There are 2.4m renters in London, and it’s vital their rights are upheld and that they are protected from the few rogue landlords and agents who operate in London.

“In order to truly improve the private rented sector, we need much more wide-ranging reform. In the meantime, the Mayor will continue to stand up for London renters, by working in partnership with boroughs and London Trading Standards on improving standards, enforcing transparency around letting agent fees and helping renters to access information on rogue landlords.”

Landlords Face Losing Millions as Government Cracks Down on Letting Fees

Published On: September 7, 2018 at 9:58 am


Categories: Landlord News,Tenant Fees Ban

Tags: ,,,

Landlords are set to lose out on millions of pounds through a clampdown on rental fees after the Government yesterday announced further protections for tenants against letting fees, as part of the Tenant Fees Bill.

Under the new default fee provision, a landlord or agent will only be able to recover reasonable incurred costs, and must provide evidence of these costs to the tenant before they can impose any charges.

The move is designed to ensure that tenants in the private rented sector are not made to pay excessive fees for what is deemed to be ‘minor’ damages.

Other amendments to the Bill brought forward by the Government include taking steps to ensure tenants get their money back promptly, by reducing the timeframe that landlords and agents must pay back any fees that they have unlawfully charged.

The Bill, which will cap tenant deposits at a maximum of six weeks, is expected to save tenants around £240m a year.

Minister Rishi Sunak MP commented: “Tenants across the country, whatever their income, should not be hit with unfair costs by agents or landlords.

“This government is determined to make sure our housing market works and this new provision in the Tenant Fees Bill will make renting fairer and more transparent for all.”

But figures produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government earlier this year suggested that the proposed changes could result in landlords losing a collective £166m per year and letting agents up to £184m.

David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark, commented: “We’re disappointed but unsurprised the Tenant Fees Bill has passed the House of Commons.

“Over the summer, we worked with Daniel Kawczynski MP on his amendment to allow agents to charge up to £300. Although the amendment was unsuccessful, this shows that members involved in ARLA Propertymark’s campaign have helped MPs understand the unintended consequences of the tenant fee ban; with some MPs listening to the legitimate concerns of the industry.

“As the Bill moves into the House of Lords we will continue working to ensure parliamentarians understand the impact the ban will have on the whole private rented sector.”

The Property Ombudsman Alters Complaints Process to Speed up Disputes

Published On: September 6, 2018 at 8:05 am


Categories: Lettings News


The property ombudsman has implemented changes to its complaints system in an attempt to appear fairer and to speed up the process.

Previously, an agent would witness the outcome first of a complaint if it was upheld against it, while a consumer would be informed first if their complaint was rejected, prompting claims of bias on both sides.

However, now both agents and their clients will see the outcome of disputes simultaneously.

Agents and clients will also be able to track upcoming deadlines and who is managing their case on its RESPOND system.

TPO’s board and council have also been substituted by one unitary board chaired by Baroness Diana Warwick.

Gerry Fitzjohn, former Chairman of the board, and Michael Stoop, former Vice-Chairman of the board, will take up the positions of non-executive directors on the new unitary board.

Stoop will also take on the role of chair of the industry forum which will feed back industry matters and concerns.

A separate consumer forum will be chaired by Mark McLaren, an independent board member.

TPO said its membership as of mid-August was 19,557, with 1,169 agents from single offices and 507 branch offices joining in the past six months.

Katrine Sporle, Property Ombudsman, commented: “Despite being at the centre of complaint handling, it is apparent that the industry sometimes struggles with how to approach complaint handling in a consistent way.

“In response, we are committed to driving up standards by putting even greater emphasis on education, giving agents the right tools to handle complaints more effectively themselves.”

In another change, agents are to be given access to online training on complaints handling.

The first 1,000 agents who purchase TPO’s Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs) course will receive the complaints handling course for free.

Completion will earn agents continuing professional development (CPD) points.

Full details are available at

Landlords and Letting Agents Turn to SAL to Cope with Regulation Changes

Published On: September 5, 2018 at 8:05 am


Categories: Lettings News

Tags: ,

Recently, there has been an increase in the number of landlords and letting agents joining Scotland’s largest membership organisation for landlords.

The Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) said membership numbers have risen by almost 20% in the last 12 months among private landlords, letting agents and businesses, with the organisation attributing the growth to a raft of new regulations affecting the private rented sector north of the border, with landlords and letting agents wanting to ensure they comply with new rules.

Deposit protection, electrical safety, water safety, and the registration and training of letting agents, are among just some of the new rules’ regulations introduced for the PRS in Scotland over the past couple of years.

A new type of tenancy, the private residential tenancy, also came into force in December last year.

Reflecting on the rise in demand or its services, Chief Executive at SAL, John Blackwood, commented: “We have seen membership increase, an increase in calls to our helpline full rooms at our regular branch meetings, sold out training sessions and a record number of downloads of the resources we provide on our website.

“We hope that this activity will ensure that landlords and letting agents are fully up to date with changes to the rules and are able to continue to provide high-quality accommodation across Scotland.”

There has already been some pressure in England for ASTs to be replaced and the no-fault ground for possession to be abolished. It has also been noticed that trends in the Scottish private rental sector, such as bans on letting agent fees, seem to be subsequently copied in England. Could these new tenancy rules be in force across England in due course?

Longer Tenancies – Agents’ Consultation Responses Could be Vital

Published On: August 23, 2018 at 9:59 am


Categories: Lettings News

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PropTech provider PayProp is encouraging letting agents and property professionals to reciprocate to the Government’s consultation on longer tenancies.The automated rental payment platform claimed that agents’ input could be integral in shaping the future policy framework as the industry experiences ongoing change, placing pressure on existing rental tenures.

There’s not much time left to contribute

In July, the Government launched an eight-week consultation on the subject of longer tenancies.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government claimed that a rise in families and older people choosing to rent, rendered it necessary for longer and more secure tenancies than the minimum six months offered by the assured shorthold tenancy regime.

The consultation explores the advantages and disadvantages of introducing a three-year tenancy with a six-month break clause. It also outlines a number of questions for respondents to answer.

Chief Operating Officer of PayProp UK, Neil Cobbold, commented: “Letting agents who want to have their say on the government’s plans to introduce longer tenancies don’t have long to respond to the consultation, as it closes on August 26,”

“Consultations are designed to give important stakeholders a voice in shaping future legislation. For something as significant as overhauling the current structure of tenancies, the more agent and landlord feedback received by the government, the better,” Cobbold commented.

Agents’ experience is valuable

Letting agents’ diverse industry experience – working with different landlords and tenants at a range of properties over a period of time – could be very valuable to politicians shaping the proposed framework around longer tenancies.

“Dealing with new tenancies and renewals on a regular basis means letting agents are well placed to provide feedback on typical tenancy lengths and any potential issues or unintended consequences with longer minimum tenancy agreements,” Cobbold explained.

“Agents also speak daily to landlords and tenants so they will be able to provide useful insight into the consumer reaction to these proposals and whether longer tenancies are something landlords and tenants are keen to see introduced.”

Propertymark Launches new CMP Scheme: No Trade Body Required for Agents

Published On: August 23, 2018 at 9:02 am


Categories: Lettings News

Tags: ,

Previously known as ARLA Lite, the new Client Money Protection scheme has launched. Jointly owned by trade body Propertymark and The Dispute Service, in association with The Property Ombudsman, this allows agents to have insurance without being a member of a trade body.

Called Money Shield, Propertymark is the scheme administrator.

This is available to all agents, and describes itself as a “straightforward and cost-effective solution, allowing agents to obtain robust protection for their clients without membership of a professional body”.

It is said to cost £400 per firm.

The unusual press release announcing its launch said: “Spokespeople from Money Shield, Propertymark, TDS and TPO said: ‘Before the Government’s announcement on compulsory CMP last year, many consumers didn’t consider the financial risks of using an agent who didn’t offer protection.

‘Consumer awareness has now grown, and landlords and tenants are now far more aware of the dangers and associated risks.

‘We urge all letting agents and estate agents across the country to get ahead of the curve and enrol now before the legislation comes into effect, to gain ground on your competitors and avoid falling foul of the law.’”

Compulsory CMP is due to be implemented early next year, shortly before the ban on tenancy fees comes into effect.

David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark comments on the story from Shelter and National Housing Federation about discrimination in the rental sector: “This is a systemic problem with how housing benefit works. Rents are paid in advance, whereas housing benefit is paid in arrears, and therefore with such a shortage of rental accommodation, landlords and agents will naturally choose a tenant who can pay the rent when it is due, rather than a tenant who is always a month in arrears.

“We have called on Government time and time again to resolve this problem. But our calls have fallen on deaf ears. To make the situation worse, many lenders also have a clause in their buy-to-let mortgage agreements which prevent landlords from letting to housing benefit tenants. This situation does not exist because of landlords or letting agents, it is a systemic problem caused by Government and the banks.”