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Landlords back plans for agents watchdog

Saturday 21 October 2017

Landlords have welcomed plans for a new watchdog to regulate letting and managing agents, after communities secretary Sajid Javid issued a call for evidence.

Mr Javid told the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) that while there are many decent, law abiding agents, action was needed to protect landlords and tenants from unfair costs and excessive service charges levied by the unscrupulous.

He is asking for views on whether a new regulatory model is needed for agents in the leasehold sector - a move which was announced at the Conservative Party Conference.

The review will ask if a new independent regulatory body is needed – and whether or not separate bodies should be set up for both leasehold and private rented management and letting agents.

While the sector is partly self-regulated through professional bodies such as ARMA, and Arla Propertymark, other property agents operate outside of any system and can provide a poor deal for consumers, said DCLG.

The review also asks what form regulation of letting and managing agents should take ‘to best protect and empower tenants and leaseholders’.

Residential Landlords Association chairman Alan Ward said: “Bad agents let down landlords as well as tenants and controls which support quality letting agents are to be welcomed.”

David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark and Mark Hayward, Chief Executive, NAEA Propertymark, also welcomed the announcement.

In a statement, they said the move would give consumers "greater control over who manages their property, create long needed transparency, and raise the bar for those wishing to work in the housing sector."

They added: "However, it’s concerning that estate agents don’t fall under the Government’s initial scope – we urge ministers to widen the remit to include the whole housing market."

They said their members are required to have deposit and client money protection schemes in place and undertake regular training, but admitted that "this doesn’t stop some rogue agents from giving the industry a bad name."

The six-week call for evidence period runs until November 29 , with the government planning to bring forward detailed proposals early next year.

MR Javid was speaking at the ARMA Conference at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel, on Wednesday.

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