Ministers have rejected new calls to regulate letting agents after some tenants and landlords have lost money due to businesses closing without warning.
Some of the agents close for business reasons, but some are subject to fraud inquiries as the letting agents disappear with rents owed to landlords.
In a response to a letter from the Association of Residential Letting Agents to Housing Minister Grant Shapps, the government says no regulation is in the pipeline - mainly due to the voluntary schemes in the sector.
ARLA runs a letting agent accreditation scheme that includes rules to protect client money, while a new SafeAgent scheme run by several major letting agency chains is about to launch.
Peter Bolton King said: “While I am pleased that they continue to understand the benefits of using one of our members, they are clearly not yet swayed by the argument that all lettings agents should protect client money and belong to a redress scheme.”
The letter from the Communities and Local Government Department explained ministers were keeping a watching brief on letting agents.
“The lettings industry is not subject to statutory regulation; however, it is in the interests of the industry to maintain consumer confidence and we look to organisations such as the National Federation of Property Professionals, of which ARLA is a part, to take a lead in that work,” said the letter.
“The department continues to explore how best to counter poor practice by letting and managing agents without resorting to regulation.
“Between a third and a half of agents belong to voluntary schemes which ensure that members have the right protections for consumers in place.
“In view of the well developed voluntary regulation in the sector, ministers do not believe regulation is the answer at present. They are keeping a watching brief, and information about poor practice is always useful in that context.”