Tenants in Branch

Is Your Letting Agent Regulated?

The Private Rented Sector in the UK can be a confusing place. With housing under the remit of the devolved governments, the rules can vary quite dramatically across the different countries.

This can be especially confusing if you move across the border from one country to another. This is why we have put together this helpful guide, so you can see whether your letting agent is regulated or not.

WHERE IS YOUR PROPERTY LOCATED?

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Northern Ireland Flag

ENGLAND – AGENTS ARE NOT REGULATED…YET

If you are renting or letting a property through a letting agent in England, you may be surprised to know that there is no mandatory training that letting agents must complete or a code of practice that agents must work to.

The only mandatory requirements are that your agent must be registered with a one of the Government approved consumer redress scheme and they must protect all tenancy deposits through one of the approved schemes.

This will change in the future

On 1 April the Government announced new proposals, which will benefit around 9 million households in England’s private rented and leasehold sectors. These proposals include:

Code of Practice

A new mandatory code of practice that all agents will need to work to and an independent regulator that will be given the powers to tackle any that break the rules. This will hopefully stop letting agents from flouting the law and will protect consumers by driving rogue agents out of the industry.

Qualifications

Under the new proposals letting will be required to obtain a nationally recognised qualification to practice, with at least one person in every organisation required to have a higher qualification – This will help professionalise the sectors.

Client money protection

Client Money Protection (CMP) ensures that you will receive some compensation if your letting agent your letting agent goes bust or misappropriates your money which would ordinarily leave you out of pocket.

According to industry estimates, £2.7 billion in client money is held by letting agents at any one time and approximately 60% of letting agents are voluntarily signed up to a CMP scheme. Compulsory Client Money Protection will level the playing field and will give you the peace of mind that your agent has financial protection in place. 

The timeline for this regulation to become law is currently unknown.

 

SCOTLAND – AGENTS ARE REGULATED

A Letting Agent Code of Practice is in force in Scotland giving your agent a set of minimum standards they must work to. The code of practice means that your agent must have:

Professional Indemnity insurance

Professional Indemnity insurance can provide you with financial recompense should your agent be negligent or breach any of their statutory duties.

Client money protection

Client Money Protection (CMP) ensures that you will receive some compensation if your letting agent your letting agent goes bust or misappropriates your money which would ordinarily leave you out of pocket.

Register of Letting Agents

On 31 January 2018, new laws came into force that created a new Register of Letting Agents. If your agent hasn’t already applied to join the registered they must make an application before 31 October if they wish to stay in business.

The register will add further protection and professionalism to the industry as it builds on the standards set by the code of practice by introducing minimum training requirements that agencies must meet.

 

WALES – AGENTS ARE REGULATED

If you’re renting a property in Wales, your landlord and their rental properties must be registered with Rent Smart Wales.

Your landlord must be suitably trained and licensed to carry out letting or property management activities or arrange for a trained and licensed agent to undertake these activities on their behalf.

Letting agents that manage properties in Wales are legally required to be licensed.

Rent Smart Wales’ sets out the minimum criteria that your letting agent must have which includes:

Professional Indemnity insurance

Professional Indemnity insurance can provide you with financial recompense should your agent be negligent or breach any of their statutory duties.

Membership in a consumer redress scheme

There are three government-approved letting agent redress schemes:

  • Ombudsman Services: Property*
  • The Property Ombudsman
  • Property Redress Scheme

The purpose of the consumer redress scheme is so that you have an independent organisation that you can escalate any complaints. They will then help to resolve any dispute disputes between you and your agent.

Client Money Protection

Client Money Protection ensures that you will receive some compensation if your letting agent your letting agent goes bust or misappropriates your money which would ordinarily leave you out of pocket.

Check if your landlord or agent is registered with Rent Smart Wales?

Search for your landlord or agent on the Rent Smart Wales website.

Check the register

 

NORTHERN IRELAND - NOT CURRENTLY REGULATED

In January 2017, the Department for Communities published proposals for significant changes to the private rented sector which included introducing Agent Regulation, subjecting all unfit properties built before 1956 to rent control and banning letting agent fees to tenants.

This public consultation was on the second stage in the Communities Department’s Review of the Role and Regulation of the Private Rented Sector. The consultation closed on 3 April 2017.

However due to the collapse of the Northern Ireland Government no further action has been taken.

 

AVOID THE CONFUSION - ARLA PROPERTYMARK PROTECTED AGENTS CHOOSE TO BE REGULATED

If you’re confused by all the information above, make sure you look for the ARLA Propertymark Protected logo.

ARLA Propertymark Protected agents have voluntarily chosen to be regulated and all of our agents are required to operate in a transparent way, providing services which are subject to independent scrutiny. Any agent who falls below Propertymark’s standards will be subject to disciplinary action.

Find a Propertymark Protected Agent

*In February 2018, Ombudsman Services: Property announced that it will withdraw from complaints handling in the property sector.

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