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I am inundated with consultations at the moment – why? You have guessed it. The Government has published their long-anticipated draft tenant fee ban bill. At last, the industry has the opportunity to see in detail how the ban will work in practice.
The Government have also released their consultation on the introduction of Client Money Protection, which they accept will now be introduced. There is also strong indication that a stronger form of regulation will also be adopted and that trade body membership becomes a prerequisite to trade is also on the horizon.
I have long been calling for the Government to incorporate a joined-up strategy and not the piecemeal approach we have witnessed in past. We need a strategy that leads to a safer, more professional sector that is fit for purpose and provides the consumer with a high-quality service.
The strategy should include a rationalisation of the current licensing regime with a single national register replacing the confusing landscape of local licensing, a robust fit and proper persons test for people letting property, meaningful training, and education for landlords and property professionals, mandatory inventories, client money protection for agents, regulation of referencing companies and full access for the consumer to proper redress - including those that use a private landlord.
The Government also has to commit to putting real resources into enforcement in order to ensure the rogues are driven out of the market and leave a thriving sector that encourages a virtuous enforcement cycle. I suggest a ring-fencing of fines and compliance income specifically for policing regulation, ensuring local authorities can dedicate money to do their job properly.
Over the next few weeks, the various organisations and representatives of the sector will be pouring over the consultations and helping guide the civil service and politicians to get this reform right. I will be doing my part as outlined above but I also urge you to make your voice heard and engage in the consultations.
These consultations end in a few short weeks and once analysed, then the process of formulation the legislation can begin.
The Government will then have all the ingredients on the table, for making property agency a real profession; so now is the time for them to get mixing and bake the cake!
Draft Tenant Fee Ban
Call for Evidence on regulation of letting agents
Sean Hooker, Head of Redress
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Property Redress Scheme is approved by Government under the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015