Elmhurst seeks to protect tenants in the letting and managing agent market
Elmhurst has today responded to the Government consultation on 'Protecting consumers in the letting and managing agent market'.
The Government recognises that more and more people are renting their homes, which has fuelled a growth of a multi-billion pound property agent market. Indeed the Competition and Markets Authority(CMA) estimate that service charges alone could cost a staggering £2.5 and £3.5 billion per year.
It is noted that Agents play a vital role in protecting people’s properties and ensuring that the residents are safe and secure. However, the quality and range of these agents is extremely wide; the Government state that the average fees paid by two tenants to letting agents is £400 (ranging from £40 to £780).
On 18th October 2017 Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said:
“This is supposed to be the age of the empowered consumer – yet in property management, we’re still living in the past. I’ve already announced plans to regulate letting agents, including banning fees for tenants. I’ve also made clear that I want to see an end to unjustified use of leasehold in new-build houses. And today I’m setting out a plan to fix the problems in the property agent market.”
The consultation is asking the right questions in terms of consumer protection. Elmhurst welcomes the fact that many Agents take a professional approach and sign up to standards of practice through membership of a trade body, but others do not. Quite simply landlords and tenants do not necessarily appreciate that anyone can become a property agent, regardless of their background, skills or experience, and yet, it is property Agents that will be the "expert" advising on how they must meet their regulatory obligations when it comes to energy efficiency.
Elmhurst understands the regulatory framework which affects Landlords, tenants and Agents better than most; as our 8000 members issue Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) provided to tenants of rented property before they sign a rental agreement. The new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) is also law, and from 1st April 2018, no landlord can rent out an ‘F’ or ‘G’ rated property.
Most of the enforcement issues we see relate to the rental market which indicates that tenants continue to live in cold, damp and expensive to run properties. The regulation already exists, which is why we would support a framework of regulation for property agents. Anything that allows compliance with all the necessary laws is in our view a good thing and will ensure that people are held accountable for consumers continuing to live in energy inefficient homes.
We welcome the consultation, and for us it is simple. The laws exist, by accepting that a framework is needed to provide a level playing field for agents if we are to ensure that families up and down the country don’t live in extremely poor energy inefficient accommodation. The laws exist and now the compliance needs to be enforced to protect consumers.
To see the full Elmhurst response see the link below.