MPs urge new laws for landlords and letting agents
By Simon Thompson
Landlords and letting agents are about to bear the brunt of a flood of new laws for buy to let and shared homes if lawmakers get their way.
Communities and Local Government Select Committee MPs have submitted a wish list of updates to landlord and letting law to the government.
At this stage, the recommendations are just proposals, but some are already on the government’s radar for tightening up some of the more dubious practices poor landlords and letting agents indulge in.
The key proposals include:
• Extending estate agent compliance to letting agents, bringing them under the control of the Office of Fair trading for the first time. Upgrading regulation would bring all letting agents into an ombudsman scheme for handling complaints and would make client money protection compulsory
• Letting agents would have to meet minimum training standards and undergo refresher training
• A crack down on hidden fees that would demand letting agents tell landlords and tenants about all fees and charges involved with letting a property upfront
• Steering away from a national landlord registration scheme in England in favour of empowering local councils to take on extra planning and licensing powers
• Introducing an electrical safety standard on the same lines as gas safety certification for all private rented homes
• Reviewing tenancy agreements to make them simpler and to let landlords grant longer tenancies by encouraging mortgage lenders to axe restrictive tenancy terms in loans
• Developing a quick and easy way to evict tenants who do not pay their rents
Clive Betts, the select committee chairman, said: “Amazingly letting agents are subject to less control than estate agents. This lack of regulation is giving rise to sharp practice and abuse by some letting agents.
“We were told that the letting sector was the property industry’s ‘Wild West’. Cowboy agents who rip off landlords and tenants have to be stopped. They need to play by new rules or get out of the sector.”
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