The head of one of the three mandatory redress schemes in the rental sector insists that, contrary to suggestions from some in the industry, “a significant proportion” of letting agents have yet to join.
Sean Hooker, property ombudsman at the Property Redress Scheme – one of the mandatory schemes alongside The Property Ombudsman and Ombudsman Services – says confusion over how many agents have signed up to one or other of the schemes is down to a continuing lack of clarity over who is regarded as an ‘agent’.
“The reason for this discrepancy is that the new law has widened the definition of agent and therefore a large number of different and legitimate models of agency are now encapsulated in this legislation,” Hooker told Landlord Today’s sister site Letting Agent Today.
For this reason, Hooker says, it may be unwise to regulate for mandatory client money protection, although he personally supports it.
“A good example is the growing Rent-to-Rent market, that I believe is captured by this law. We have a complex letting industry. Until we fully understand it, the risk is that regulation will be too simplistic and could end up toothless and without credibility,” he warned.
“We should as an industry line up our ducks and build the tool kit for a safe and professional industry. Redress is a vital component of the equation so shout this from the roof tops and make sure it is an unqualified success,” he insisted.
Hooker also said the perceived lack of public awareness of the new redress regime was surprising given then there has been a decade of redress options available to landlords and tenants with problems, even though they have only just become mandatory.
Some agents, too, were unaware, admits Hooker. “A large number of agents were also totally in the dark as one nameless individual demonstrated when they rang us to ask what this ‘omnibus’ scheme all about...”