Rogue letting agents and landlords to be targeted yet again
It seems the government is once again on the war path when it comes to protecting tenants. I am all for protecting peoples rights but there is two sides to this coin and I get the impression that the private landlord and letting agents has replaced the car driver when it comes to an easy option for money collection.
I have read two reports claiming that the government wants to clamp down on the small minority of rogue agents who are alleged to be forcing consumers to pay over-inflated service charges and other fees. At least they have acknowledged that it is indeed a minority, when you look at some of the recent reports you would think that all involved in property rental were the devil’s spawn.
One of the potentially major changes is the potential change in the law to ensure all letting and management agents must be qualified and regulated to practise. Is this a good thing, not sure it will stop those that are rogue, anyone can gain a qualification and in principle adhere to a set of regulations. Would it not be far better to use commercial forces to drive these individuals out of practice?
We already have a selection of governing bodies and licence schemes and these are not reducing the minority of rogue letting agents and landlords.
At present the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid is asking for evidence to decide if the sector needs a regulatory overhaul. If we do what do we need to overhaul? Should the legal system be included in the review, one of the biggest issues is the time taken to go to court to evict a tenant. If we could speed up the removal process maybe some agents would not see the need for other costs to recoup lost rental income?
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid stated that he wants to protect consumers from unfair costs and excessive service charges, however what is deemed unfair and excessive by one will be deemed fair by another. He went on to mention that he wants to place more power in the hands of consumers by giving leaseholders more say over their agent, will this also apply to social housing providers such as councils and housing associations. I fail to see how this will be of a benefit to both parties when they topic is so emotional and both parties are coming at it from different points of view.
Finally, he would like to see considered include whether leaseholder tenants should have a greater say over the appointment of managing agents and how transparency can be increased in the system so that tenants and leaseholders know what they are being charged for and why. This does not happen in many sectors within the UK, do we see apple and Pepsi having to show how and why they do business?
We all agree there is a housing crisis but solving it by commercial enterprises building properties is always going to result in those wanting to maximise their ROI. This review will not solve the housing crisis, it could potentially make it worse.