The Association of Residential Landlords (ARLA) is currently running a voluntary licensing scheme for letting agents in conjunction with a money protection scheme for clients of its members. However, they have recently noted that the work they are doing would be “undermined” provided the government did not make licensing compulsory.
Operations Manager at ARLA, Ian Potter, has been quoted saying: “We are disappointed that the Housing Minister has once again refused to implement any kind of regulation on the private rental sector.”
He then went on to add the following: “There is no requirement for lettings agents or landlords themselves to take any kind of professional qualification. This means their professionalism cannot be guaranteed. In today’s market, when people are becoming increasingly desperate to find a home, there will be increasing opportunity for unethical operators to take advantage of consumers.”
Mr Potter was responding to the government’s recently launched SafeAgent scheme, and the new factsheets that have also been released. The factsheets are designed to provide help and advice to tenants and landlords with regards to their rights and responsibilities.
Disputes between those renting and their landlords are thought to be mostly caused by misunderstandings that could be easily prevented. Landlords can also look to protect their property with a Landlords Insurance policy, just in case any tenants feel the need to resolve a dispute through action and not words.
A “Dos and Don’ts” factsheet for landlords gives advice on finding a suitable letting agent, the need for written agreements and inventories, and protecting tenants’ deposits.
Whilst the “Dos and Don’ts” factsheet for tenants will offer advice on legal requirements for renting, how to deal with disputes, and what one can expect from a landlord.
In the mean time, Housing Minister, Grant Shapps has said: “The private rented sector provides a valuable source of accommodation for over three million people in England, and the vast majority of them are happy with the service they receive.”
He went on to add: “That’s why I have promised not to wrap the sector in red tape, but to instead work with the industry to help them develop their own plans to tackle those bad landlords, and with councils to throw the book at those who don’t live up to their responsibilities.”
It currently remains to be seen whether the factsheets will do their job as intended.