Professional standards 'needed for letting agents'

by Sarah Ashcroft

Professional standards should be introduced for all letting agents.

This is according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) and the body thinks this measure - coupled with compulsory regulation - could generate upwards of £20 million a year for the UK economy.

At the moment, individuals do not need any qualifications or industry knowledge in order to set up as a letting agent, which means that both landlords and tenants could encounter unprincipled practices once a tenancy agreement has been signed.

However, if the government was to introduce legislation that created a requirement for minimum standards, this kind of issue could be aggressively clamped down on.

Analysis by Rics has found that initial start-up costs would total £45 million, but this money will be made back in less that two-and-a-half years as the system would cut back on the amount of complex red tape, while consumers would also be offered increased levels of protection.

A poll carried out by the organisation to ascertain the feelings of the public found that 90 per cent of people think the lettings industry should be regulated.

Peter Bolton King, Rics global residential director, stated the government needs to act to "safeguard the thousands of tenants and landlords who fall victim to unscrupulous practices" and the introduction of a single regulatory and redress system would do this.

"It's encouraging that the introduction of professional standards and new compulsory regulation proposals being sought by RICS has support from other industry players and consumer groups and has now received cross-party support. But what we need now is action."

Jack Dromey, shadow housing minister, is backing the initiative, as he thinks the current system is too confusing and inconsistent in terms of charges. He wants clarity brought to the sector so that consumers can access information that is "understandable, upfront and comparable".

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Published on: February 6, 2013

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