LETTING & ESTATE AGENT

Regulation and the Private Lettings Sector

Regulation and the Private Lettings Sector

A 23-page ‘note’ written by officers at the House of Commons library has been released, giving details behind the government’s decision not to regulate letting agents but instead to  oblige them to join a redress scheme.The document is formally called a ‘note’ but runs to a hefty 11,175 words.It has three main sections - the current position where there is, in its words, “no overarching statutory regulation”, then a section with the pros and cons of regulation, and finally a section giving “recent developments” from 2010 onwards.Substantial elements of the document read like an argument in favour of regulation, as it quotes extensively from the Property Ombudsman’s 2012 Annual Report, issued just over a year ago, which expresses support for strengthened regulation; it also quotes from surveys conducted by, amongst others, online agency Rentify, housing charity Shelter, and from consultation on lettings regulation by the now-defunct Office of Fair Trading. The document - written in January and February but only recently publicised - serves as a useful guide to the debate that has raged about regulation in recent years.It concludes that: “The Government considers that the present legal framework strikes the right balance between landlords and tenants and that new regulations would ‘introduce too much additional red tape’.” But is also says that consultation on a draft Tenants’ Charter, which began on 16 October 2013, is ongoing and reiterates that DCLG Secretary of State Eric Pickles has pledged that the Coalition “will develop a code of practice on the management of property in the private rented sector.”