The Property Ombudsman scheme (TPO) has lent its full support to a new initiative to help Local Authorities take action against rogue letting agents who fail to comply with the law.
The National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) collaborated with a number of local councils* and industry experts to create the Effective Enforcement Toolkit, which is designed to assist local authority enforcement officers to take effective action against letting agents that have failed to:
• Register with a government-approved redress scheme
• Display their fees, redress scheme membership and client money protection status.
Commenting on the toolkit, Ombudsman Katrine Sporle, said: “This is great news for the Private Rented Sector and one that we whole heartedly support. We welcome all practical help for local authorities in our combined quest to raise standards and ensure transparency in the industry.
“Last year, the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team (NTSEAT) launched a similar toolkit for the sales market, so it is good to see that local authorities will now have step-by-step guidance of the legalities and requirements for regulating letting agents.
“In particular, the Private Rented Sector toolkit highlights the need for letting agents to display their fees and redress scheme membership. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 requires all letting agents to display the fees they charge to landlords and tenants, as well as which redress scheme they are a member of. There is a small minority of agents who still don’t comply with current legislation, so having these tools in place to enforce requirements effectively will help to tackle rogue activity within the industry.”
The toolkit includes:
• Warning letters to letting agents who are failing to comply with legal duties
• Advice on serving civil penalties
• Guidance on how to highlight enforcement action to the local media
Created by PRS experts Richard Tacagni from housing consultancy London Property Licensing and Fiona Exley from London Trading Standards, eight* local authorities also provided helpful information, advice and examples of good practice that contributed to the development of the toolkit.
*Bristol City Council, Enfield Council, Islington Council, Newham Council, Powys County Council (National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team), Sheffield City Council, Westminster City Council, York City Council)