The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme has expressed its support for a new 'best practice' Code for the Private Rented Sector (PRS) which was officially launched today by the Minister for Housing, Brandon Lewis.
The new PRS Code, which comes immediately into effect, was developed at the request of the Department for Communities and Local Government's (DCLG) in 2013. Facilitated by RICS, the drafting of the Code brought together TPO and sixteen other leading property organisations to collectively outline mandatory and recommended best practices for landlords and lettings agents in order to improve the stock of privately rented homes in the UK.
Christopher Hamer, the Ombudsman, said:
'The new Code is a milestone for the industry as it provides a set of principles for every landlord and letting agent in the private rented sector to follow, which TPO has championed the idea of for many years.
'The new Code will act as a complementary pathway to the more detailed standards in TPO's Lettings Code of Practice that was established in 2006 and which forms the basis of the decisions I make when reviewing disputes between member letting agents and landlords or tenants.'
'The overarching principles outlined in the new Code will ensure agents, landlords and investors across the industry have a shared understanding of what levels of service to expect from agents letting and managing property in the private rented sector in England.'
More than 11,500 letting agents are already following TPO's Code of Practice, which enables their landlords and tenants to access TPO's free, fair and independent dispute resolution service.
TPO member agents will not be required to take any action following the launch of today's PRS Code, as their membership and commitment to follow TPO's detailed Code of Practice means that they already meet the principles outlined in the new PRS Code.
Mr Hamer added: 'Our support for the PRS Code is a testament to our strong belief that the industry needs to have common standards to eliminate the minority of rogues that expose consumers to risk through poor practices and perhaps financial damage. This Code is an important development that will also equip landlords with the essential knowledge needed to pick an agent that will deliver the best service and reduce the number disputes, which rose 22%1 last year.'
The PRS Code was officially launched at today's RESI Conference by the Minister for Housing along with a package of measures to drive up standards and quality in the Private Rented Sector (PRS).
The news follows last week's announcement by the Housing Minister and Department for Communities and Local Government, which confirmed letting agents have until the 1st October 2014 to register with an approved redress scheme.
To download the PRS Code, visit: www.rics.org/prscode