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The regulation of private sector letting and managing agents (England)

Published Friday, March 27, 2015

There is no overarching statutory regulation of private sector letting or managing agents in England but since 1 October 2014 they have been required to be members of an approved redress scheme. This note considers evidence and issues around the regulation of private sector letting and managing agents.

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There is no overarching statutory regulation of private sector letting or managing agents in England or any legal requirement for them to belong to a trade association, although many letting and managing agents submit to voluntary regulation. Growth in the private rented sector (it is now the second biggest tenure in the country after home ownership) means that standards of accommodation, rent levels and the lack of regulation is generating increased attention.

The Government does not intend to introduce regulation in the sector and has pointed instead to the existing range of available powers under consumer protection legislation. However, an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 enabled the Government to require agents to sign up to a redress scheme. The Redress Scheme for Lettings Agency Work and Property Management Work (Requirement to Belong to a Scheme etc) (England) Order 2014 made membership of a scheme a legal requirement with effect from 1 October 2014. The Government also amended the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to require letting agents to publish a full tariff of their fees.

A new Code of Practice on the management of property in the private rented sector was published in October 2014 while a voluntary model tenancy agreement "which landlords and tenants can use for longer tenancies, which will provide extra security and stability for families" was published in September 2014.

The Department of Communities and Local Government published a guide for local authorities: Improving the private rented sector and tackling bad practice: a guide for local authorities (updated March 2015) and How to rent: the checklist for renting in England (updated October 2014). Consultation on a draft Tenants’ Charter began on 16 October 2013. March 2015 also saw publication of: Renting a safe home: a guide for tenants.

The Government considers that the present legal framework strikes the right balance between landlords and tenants and that new regulations would “introduce too much additional red tape”.

Commons Briefing papers SN06000

Authors: Wendy Wilson; Catherine Fairbairn

Topics: Housing, Owner occupation, Private rented housing

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