The Government has announced that the lettings sector’s compulsory redress regime will begin on 1 October.
The Department of Communities and Local Government previously suggested the scheme would start sometime in the autumn, probably in October, but this is the first time a formal start date has been announced.
The Government’s objective, backed by much of the industry, is to provide a service of impartial dispute resolution when complaints are raised about letting agents by landlords or tenants - much as there is a channel for this service in the sales sector already.
If any lettings agency is found not to be in one of three official schemes, it can be fined up to £5,000. Local councils’ trading standards offices are charged with policing the law.
The three schemes are the Property Redress Scheme, Ombudsman Services Property and The Property Ombudsman.
The Government has previously made clear that the lettings redress schemes must be impartial, properly staffed and by people who understand lettings law, be open to all letting and property management agents, and that “membership requirements should not unfairly restrict access to the scheme - for example, a compulsory requirement to sign up or comply with a code of practice.”
The redress schemes must also be free to complainants, be easy to access, and provide full data about complaints in their annual reports.