On 16 February 2017, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper on the regulation in England of letting and managing agents. The complete report can be read here.
The growth of the rental market and lack of housing stock has prompted the government to focus, amongst other issues, on letting and management agents’ activities. Currently agents are fairly lightly regulated and there is no comprehensive regime to regulate or license lettings and management agents in England unlike in all of the devolved regions. However, many agents are members of professional bodies, such as ARLA, and would like to drive up standards within the sector.
Prior to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement the government made no conscious effort to introduce any regulation or regime within the sector and instead referred to the array of consumer protection legislation already in force. However, since 1 October 2014, agents have been legally required to be a member of an approved redress scheme, and since 27 May 2015 they have had to comply with requirements relating to the publication of their fees.
Following the Autumn Statement, the government has seen some resistance to its intention to legislate to ban letting agent’s fees for tenants. There has always been an intention to carry out a consultation exercise in the Spring prior to introducing any such legislation. However, the scope of this has widened a little and it is possible that some form(s) of fee might be permitted in a limited sense. It is for this reason that we thought it appropriate to bring the briefing paper to the attention of our readers.