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Tenants offered new protection

Tenants and leaseholders are set to receive stronger protection from unscrupulous letting agents.

Housing Minister Kris Hopkins announced on 15 April that all letting and property management agents would be required to join one of three redress schemes later this year.

The compulsory schemes – run by the Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services: Property and the Property Redress Scheme – will offer independent investigation of complaints about hidden fees or poor service. Where a complaint is upheld, tenants and leaseholders could receive compensation.

Most letting agents are already signed up with one of the organisations. A further remaining 3,000 agents, around 40 per cent of the sector, will now be encouraged to join one of the schemes ahead of the legal requirement.

Mr Hopkins said: “All tenants and leaseholders have a right to fair and transparent treatment from their letting agent. Most are happy with the service they receive, but a small minority of agents are ripping people off, and giving the whole industry a bad name.

“That’s why we will require all agents to belong to one of the official redress schemes. They will ensure tenants have a straightforward route to take action if they get a poor deal, while avoiding excessive red tape that would push up rents and reduce choice for tenants.”

Other measures being introduced by the government to protect tenants include:

  • a new voluntary code of practice, setting standards for the management of property in the private rented sector
  • a new help to rent guide, to help tenants understand what they should expect from their rental deal and action they can take on issues such as hidden fees or poor standards of accommodation
  • the introduction of a model tenancy agreement, which landlords and tenants can use for longer tenancies.