New scheme offers protection for tenants
EARLIER this month new government legislation came into force that is set to have an important impact on the residential lettings market.
As from October 1, all lettings and property management agents will mirror estate agents in joining a governmentauthorised Consumer Redress Scheme.
From this date it will be a criminal offence for agents not to belong to a consumer redress scheme and failure to do so could result in a £5,000 fine.
There are currently three redress schemes available to join, The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services Property and the Property Redress Scheme.
A new voluntary code of practice has also been developed and issued by leading industry bodies: the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS); the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA); the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA); and The National approved Lettings Scheme (NALS).
Issued by such leading industry experts and agreed by the major stakeholders as a code that represents good practice, it is expected that members of all professional organisations will accept and adhere to the voluntary code.
The introduction of the code is designed not only to drive up standards within the industry, but also reduce consumer complaints by ensuring agents have clear standards and guidelines to follow.
If agents do fail to deal with complaints in a professional and timely manner, then the compulsory redress schemes will now provide the consumer with an escalated complaints procedure.
Complaints can be submitted to the redress schemes if the consumer does not accept an agent’s final response to their complaint, or an agent has failed to respond to a complaint within eight weeks.
Ryder and Dutton Estate Agents is a member of each of those industry bodies.
Director Richard Powell FRICS said: “Having specialised in lettings for many years, Ryder and Dutton welcomes the introduction of such a redress schemes.
“It will protect consumers and raise standards.
“We particularly welcome the new Private Sector Code of Practice published by the RICS, which provides a model for best practice.
“Landlords and tenants should ensure they choose an agent who has signed up to this code.’’
Lettings fees have also been in the spotlight recently as charities such as Shelter, the housing and homeless charity, has expressed its concerns over excessive application fees.
In response, Ryder and Dutton has taken steps to become more socially responsible by offering all its tenants a free preapplication credit check.
With this service tenants are able to obtain an initial pass of the necessary financial checks.
This will establish if they are able to proceed with their application before they incur any costs.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has issued a new How to Rent guide aimed at people who are looking for a house or flat to rent.
This offers a comprehensive explanation of the process and overview of both landlord and tenant responsibilities.
A copy of the web link or a printed copy of the guide is available on request from any Ryder and Dutton office.
●» New government legislation has come into force for residential lettings