Raft of proposals to save tenants

The government has revealed a package of proposals designed to target rogue landlords in a new drive to stop people being ripped off when they rent a flat or house.

A new code of practice will be published setting standards for the management of property in the private rented sector, with a view to making it statutory to provide greater confidence for tenants in what they can expect.

A central aspect is the introduction of new regulations that will force letting and property management agents to join a compulsory redress scheme.

40% of the entire industry has yet to join one of the schemes, which will ensure tenants’ complaints about hidden fees and poor service are investigated independently, and where a complaint is upheld, they receive compensation.

A new tenant’s charter will also be introduced in order to help tenants understand what they should expect from their rental deal, and how they can take action if they are the victim of hidden fees or poor standards of accommodation.

Eric Pickles said: “The private rented market is a vital asset to this country. It’s an important option for the millions of people who want a bit more flexibility, or to simply save up for a deposit so they can buy a place of their own.

“This government is on the side of hardworking people and the last thing we want to do is hurt tenants and kill investment by increasing costs and strangling the sector with red tape. But tenants deserve better value for money, and dodgy landlords should be under no illusion they can provide a shoddy service with impunity.”

"If tenants do suffer at the hands of unscrupulous landlords, they need protection and a clear route for taking action. In addition to ending hidden fees and reviewing standards in the sector, the proposals will help prosecute rogue landlords."

Paul Smith, CEO of haart, said: “We very much welcome any reforms that make life more difficult for the rogue landlords and unscrupulous lettings agents that give the rest of the industry a bad name.

“We are committed to an open and honest approach with tenants and are keen to see them properly protected.

“A new code of practice, setting standards for management of property in the private rented sector, while a positive step in the right direction, in our view does not go far enough.

“Most honest agents will already be working to a code of practice and we believe that enshrining these principles in law is the best way to rid the industry of dishonest landlords and agents.”

Today's Conveyancer