Make Sure Your Letting Agent Is Regulated By A Redress Scheme

Being urged to inflict pain upon a letting agent isn’t an unfamiliar feeling to me. My hate has been real, and its been fueled by God awful customer service and snake-oil antics. Sound familiar? Not surprising! It’s unfortunately a common occurrence.

Dealing with rogue letting agents can be one of the most frustrating aspects of being a Landlord, and when they fail to do their job properly, it’s not always clear who we can complain to, or even if we have a right to complain.

A notorious problem over the years for consumers is that we have more rights when purchasing a tin of baked beans than when buying/renting a house. For a very long time there has been no legislation or governing body keeping control of rogue agents. Remarkable!! It’s only recently that laws have been put into place to help with consumer protection in the property industry.

Since October 2008, all estate agents have been required to register with an approved redness scheme. Since 1st October 2014, all letting agents have been legally required to be a member of one of three government-approved letting agency redress schemes- so make sure yours is!

Agents that are members of a scheme are required to abide by a certain code of conduct, which ultimately increases consumer protection. Agents that fail to register to a scheme or practice against the requirements of a scheme they are a member of, could face penalties.

Government-approved letting agency redress schemes (required)

ALL letting agents must be a member of at least one of the following schemes…

The Property Ombudsman (TPO)

The Property Ombudsman (TPO)

Provides a free, fair and independent service for dealing with unresolved disputes between sales and letting agents who have joined the TPO and consumers who are actual or potential buyers or sellers or landlords or tenants of residential property in the UK. The TPO is one of the schemes approved by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Property Redress Scheme

Property Redress Scheme

The main purposes of the Property Redress Scheme is to allow Agents to comply with their legal requirement to be a member of a government authorised consumer redress scheme and to settle or resolve complaints made by consumers against their Members.

Ombudsman Services Property

Ombudsman Services Property

They are Ombudsman Services, an ombudsman service that provides dispute resolution for the communications, energy, property and copyright licensing industries.

Other letting agency redress schemes (optional)

Here are some other redness schemes that letting agents may be a member of, although not legally required by law…

National Approved Lettings Scheme (NALS)

National Approved Lettings Scheme (NALS)

A NALS registered agent will have to follow strict guidelines, have Client money protection insurance, Professional indemnity insurance and mandatory membership with the Ombudsman for Lettings. NALS is a government approved scheme.

Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA)

Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA)

A professional membership and regulatory body for letting agents and letting agencies in the UK. Any letting agency that is a member will have staff that will be trained to the ARLA codes of practice and one or all the staff will have taken a written exam to qualify to use the ARLA logo. The agent will follow their codes of practise; have Client money protection & Professional indemnity insurance.

Most agents will clearly display which approved scheme they are members of, whether it be on their website and/or shop window. It’s also worth noting that some letting agents have been known to display certain scheme badges while not actually being members (naughty!). This could be constituted as false advisement, but if you have doubts, you can contact the schemes directly to get clarification of valid membership.

What if your agent isn’t registered with a government-approved redness scheme?

Letting agents are legally required to be a member of at least one of three schemes! Failing to comply could lead to prosecution.

If you are using a letting agent that isn’t a member, you can contact your local council, who can then investigate and prosecute the agency. A local council can issue a fixed penalty fine of up to £5000 per branch.

Advantages of using a Letting Agent Registered to a scheme

In summary, there are mainly 2 primary reasons why you should use a registered agent:

  • 1) Agents are required to abide by a certain code of conduct, meaning better service is achieved (in theory, anyways).
  • 2) If a letting agent provides a poor service, you can complain to a scheme, who will then investigate the case in-house. There is NO charge for a tenant or landlord who makes a complaint.

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12 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Guest Avatar
F 8th July, 2009 @ 11:46

The top part is definately below the belt with your choice of words. Which does take me away from the article.

1
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 8th July, 2009 @ 13:01

@F
Sorry, I guess that's just my writing style, morbid and graphic =/

2
Guest Avatar
Jools 8th July, 2009 @ 13:24

@F

Bye Bye then!

@L

Keep up the good work!!

Jools

3
Guest Avatar
Fee 8th July, 2009 @ 15:30

Harsh words Jools.

It was me, Fee I just couldnt be bothered typing my name. It wasnt a dig I just think its a property site..so theres not much need... and I know if I dont like it then blah blah dont read it and all that.
But what you put is actually really interesting...
Anyways yeh...made my point now.

Fee

4
Guest Avatar
Jools 8th July, 2009 @ 15:33

Sorry Fee - did not mean to offend!

Jools

5
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 8th July, 2009 @ 15:44

FEEEEEE! I knew it was you!

It's a "property blog", not a "property site" per'se- there's a difference. If you want clean polished articles, you should read Rightmove's blog or something. You won't learn as much cool shit, but it will be lighter on the eyes hah! I like to keep things raw because it's more real.

Anyways, i'm just saying, this blog is based on my experiences/feelings! Actually, it's based on everyone's experiences/feelings, and I don't want people to hold back, just as I don't.

6
Guest Avatar
Fee 8th July, 2009 @ 15:57

Yup I do see your point, anyways its no big deal.

7
Guest Avatar
Adam H 24th November, 2010 @ 16:17

"That’s why it’s imperative that you, as a Landlord or tenant, use a letting agent"
Is this cost effective for letting agents, as in.. Is it better to provide a good service?
or pay TPO so you can have a banner saying you do?

The article written does not outline benefits of TPO or how it protects the Landlord.
TPO website simply outlines the basics of a letting agent. It seems not to go into specifics and "The agent must give you written Terms of Business" no outline of the framework of terms.

TPO seems to be ensuring landlords provide fine print, im sure and hope landlords would do that already.

Adam H

8
Guest Avatar
Kathleen 13th February, 2014 @ 12:46

RICS is the highest regulatory body for letting agents
Why no mention??

9
Guest Avatar
Liz 5th February, 2016 @ 13:31

I was using an agent to rent my property out. I asked the tenants to leave after 6 Months, they left a real mess, My agent refused to give me back any of their bond. Is there anything I can do

10
Guest Avatar
gary lisle 21st February, 2016 @ 18:58

I'm renting a property which is my bosses through an estate agents.ive complained twice to the agents about severe damp to all exterior walls and they ve not done anything nevermind been around,we have two dehumidifiers running allday and twenty others dotted around the house,the twenty being plastic containers designed to take away some moisture,we demould the walls twice a week which becomes black and furry,I've 4 children in the house 2 with autism and one disabled,I've never missed my rent and have worked for my boss for nearly 14 years,I don't want a catch 22 situation,what do I do?

11
Guest Avatar
Jan 31st May, 2016 @ 07:57

Hi
I am purchasing a property that is currently a rental. The existing tenant wants to remain which I'm happy about. The estate agent will manage the rental for 10 per cent. However, is this a reasonable figure and do I have to pay a tenant find fee if they are already in situ. Any advice would be welcome.

12

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