Letting Agents to be forced to sign up to approved complaints service

Better protection for tenants is the order of the day as letting agents are forced to sign up to one of three government-approved complaint services as a package of measures to give peace of mind.

Kris Hopkins, Housing Minister, announced the three approved ‘redress schemes’ which all property management and letting agents are required to join this month (15 April 2014).

The three services consisting of The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services Property and The Property Redress Scheme-will offer independent investigation of complaints about hidden fees or poor service. Where a complaint is upheld, tenants and leaseholders could receive compensation. There are currently 3,000 agents, which is 40% of the industry, not signed up to any of these organisations.

The news comes as The Property Ombudsman announced a 23% increase in enquiries and complaints relating to letting agents in its annual report.

Mr Hopkins said: ‘ A small minority of agents are ripping people off, and giving the whole industry a bad name. That is why we will require all agents to belong to one of the official redress schemes. They will ensure tenants have a straightforward route to take action if they get a poor deal, while avoiding excessive red tape that would push up rents and reduce choice for tenants.’

The measures will come into force later this year as the changes are included in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, which received royal assent in 2013.

The government will also be introducing a voluntary code of practice for private landlords, a model three-year tenancy agreement and extra guidance to help councils tackle rogue landlords.

Christopher Hamer, the ombudsman at The Property Ombudsman said: ‘As the largest redress scheme in the property sector I am naturally very pleased that TPO has received official recognition from the government as an approved redress scheme.’

Taylors Residential Lettings Limited, Company no. 6002742, Regd Office: Suite 1, Invicta Business Centre, Monument Way, Ashford TN24 0HB