The Government doesn’t like letting agents. I get it, there are some pretty shady characters in this market and we have all suffered in the past as a result of the reputation they have helped create.
So regulate the market! A full, and comprehensive, overarching regulator would not have been my first choice, but if it is the only way to get rid of the bad apples and let the rest of us go about our business then so-be-it.
Do it in one go, and stop tinkering at the edges of a market which ministers obviously do not think is working.
Don’t announce things piecemeal, whilst at the same time suggesting that there are other areas they’d like to look at, all the while ignoring the fact that the last lot of regulation is yet to be evaluated.
Isn’t that an over-reaction?
You tell me.
In October 2014 redress was mandated, in 2015 fee transparency regulation was introduced.
February 2016 saw right-to-rent introduced to England.
Last autumn the Treasury announced its intention to ban fees, before the fee transparency regulations have even been evaluated to see if they have had any impact.
Not to mention banning orders, tax changes and the rest of the Housing and Planning Act.
Only a few weeks ago DCGL confirms that they have accepted recommendations to make CMPi mandatory (no bad thing) and today we have not only the detail on the fee ban, but numerous inferences to a desire to go further – looking at capping deposits.
The consultation even says: The Government is keen to ‘explore’ ‘further regulation of the sector’.
The funny thing is, there would be quite a lot of agreement on many of these proposals – putting the fee ban to one side – but it is impossible to plan for the future when you’ve no idea what the business environment is going to look like 12, 24 or 36 months in the future.
If the housing minister wants to regulate us; fine. But do it in a sensible way.
There are plenty of responsible professional bodies in this sector (including UKALA) who require their members to meet a higher standard. In many cases a standard higher than these various government interventions will require. Work with us, require redress, CMP, PII, agree some training goals and a comprehensive code of practice backed by statute and then let us get on with what we do best.
Why the rant today?
The ‘fee ban’ consultation is out. As expected it looks to ban all fees, including referencing fees which will exclude swathes of the most vulnerable from the PRS (an argument for another day). It’s the blanket ban called for, to hell with the consequences.
However, it does thankfully provide some exemptions.
- Holding deposits to take the property off the market – tenants proceeding will the letting with have their holding deposit refunded, or where the landlord/agent fails to proceed. If the tenant fails to uphold their side of the agreement (providing false documentation or withdrawing from the tenancy) then the deposit is forfeited.
- In-tenancy property management service charges arising because of the action of the tenant – such charges could include replacing keys, repairs carried out due to deliberate damage, or late rent payment charges.
It also discusses ways that the ‘burden’ posed by tenancy deposits might be reduced, inviting suggestions.
For those who haven’t lost the will to engage, the consultation runs until 7th June 2017 and can be found HERE.